What a fantastic breakthrough it would be for humanity if grown-ups learned to sort out their differences without making children suffer.
Today’s Dominion Post contains a heart-wrenching picture by veteran photographer Phil Reid of two small children at the centre of a domestic crisis that triggered a police callout in the Wellington suburb of Newlands.
The kids are being gently shepherded toward a police car. The accompanying story says a man, presumably their father, was to be charged with several offences including assaulting a female and threatening to kill. Radio New Zealand had earlier reported that he threatened to set the house on fire while he and the children were inside.
There is something terribly poignant about the photo. The kids are nicely dressed and look well cared for. One is wearing yellow gumboots. They look tiny and acutely vulnerable.
It’s apparent that someone has tried to give these two children a secure and loving home. But something awful has happened to disrupt their lives. They would have been bewildered and frightened, the more so because this crisis presumably involved the two people closest to them.
No child deserves the trauma and terror visited on them by fighting parents. Even in the worst circumstances, adults retain some control over their lives; some power to influence events. Children have none. They are at the mercy of grown-ups on whom they rely for love, affection and security.
The scene pictured in the Dom Post today is played out, to varying degrees, every day. The emotional toll on the children who are the victims of these parental disputes is incalculable. Who knows what long-term scars are created?
We owe it to children to let them enjoy their childhood without having to bear the heavy burden of their parents’ marital problems. They don’t get a second crack at it.