Consequences Of Child Abuse
Inna Alhamdulilah, nasta3eenahu wa na3oothu billahi min shurour anfusuna wa sayeaat a3malalena. Wa amma ba3d.
As a middle school teacher of 18 years I have seen first-hand the effect of abuse on children. Over the years I have taught many students growing up in very dysfunctional homes. It’s the same story that manifests itself over and over again: parents are overwhelmed with the enormous responsibilities of parenthood and many times don’t have the support of extended family members. In addition, they are having great difficulty raising their children because they themselves grew up in dysfunctional families. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken. Nowadays, young parents are so caught up in the day to day struggle of survival that they neglect their children, don’t spend time teaching them right from wrong and in essence, the children raise themselves. At minimum, the children are starved for attention and on the extreme end of the spectrum, these children lash out violently at others due to their anger about their respective situations at home.
So how do the symptoms of abuse manifest themselves in the behavior of teens? I have observed that children are the eyes and ears of their households. They mirror whatever is going on there. If they come from homes where mutual respect and understanding are taught then they show that same respect and understanding. If there is neglect and or physical abuse, the children try to get negative attention and are very angry. Children who witness a parent being abused act out what they see. They have a tendency to show signs of aggression and to engage in aggressive acts against their peers. Some suffer from severe depression and depending upon the type of abuse, display suicidal tendencies. The list goes on. One thing that struck me as a teacher are the number of students that I have taught over the years who displayed these behaviors and have had little if any treatment.
I will never forget the case of a 7th grader I taught in 2012. She was a very beautiful and intelligent young lady. Her mother and father had gone through a terrible divorce and there was a big child custody battle. The courts gave the mother sole custody of the three minor children (my student and her two younger siblings who attended elementary school) and the father had limited visitation rights, The mother, a practicing lawyer, took her children and moved away from the city in which the family had lived. Apparently, the ex-husband was angry when he didn’t get custody of the children and was making life difficult for his ex-wife. The mother had prohibited the father from picking up the children from school, probably out of fear that he would take them. There were recorded incidents of the children’s’ father threatening to harm their mother and thus the mother got a restraining order from the courts. The father one day shows up at Cameron Village Shopping Center and waits for the mother outside of the store where she was employed, Pier One Imports. After an argument he shot her dead in the parking lot of Pier One.
Before we heard what had happened, our school had a two hour long lock down. Our school has an open campus and when we saw armed Cary police officers standing outside of our school buildings, we figured it was pretty bad. We weren’t given the details of what happened at this point because we had students in our classrooms. One of the teachers looked on WRAL and found that there was a gunman who had shot and killed a woman outside of Pier One and that he was somewhere within the neighborhood beyond the shopping center. Several schools were locked down within the vicinity of Cameron Village. We knew the gunman must have been related to one of our students since our school is so far from Cameron Village but didn’t find out who it was. When the lockdown finally ended, it was our students’ dismissal time. Our principal called an emergency faculty meeting where we were told it was the father of one of our students who killed his ex-wife and later killed himself. Our student had been taken by the Cary police into protective custody when her mother was murdered out of fear that her father would try to harm her. The same was done to her younger brother and sister in elementary school. The staff was horrified, especially myself and my teammates. This incident affected us directly. How horrible it must have been for these children losing both parents in one day? Their maternal grandmother took custody of the three grandchildren and moved them away with her to Florida. We never heard anything from them again.
As a mother and a teacher, this incident stayed with me. I made du3aas for my student and her family and continued on with my life. I often think about the many children who encounter this level of abuse and think about how they cope. May Allah (SWT) protect our children from harm, Ameen.