The changing face of innocence – comment / editorial – The changing face of innocence
February 07, 2008
Mehdi Rizvi, Community Editorial Board

It’s beyond the imagination of any parent that their child might go to school in the morning and never return home.

This painful thought sends chills down the spine. According to a recent report, there have been 177 unpublicized cases of violence in Toronto schools in addition to those reported in the media.

The problem is escalating and, unfortunately, we gradually are accepting this situation as a routine part of life. But the untimely death of a child is a wound that never heals.

Sincere efforts are being made at all levels but no solution is in sight. Teachers’ fear of reporting crime is a new element that has further increased anxiety among parents.

This situation gives rise to many questions:

What are our expectations for schools?

Are teachers trained to resolve social problems?

What is the role of parenting?

Is the balance between parents’ desires and duties tilting on one side?

Honest answers may provide some insight into the dynamics of the problem and help to find a remedy.

A school is a seat of learning. The main objective is to provide the highest possible level of excellence in knowledge. Basic manners, discipline and values are also taught to help in the moral development of students. Generally, this system works well in our schools. Students move forward, making parents and teachers proud of their achievements.

This shows that teachers deliver what they are trained to do.

But teachers are not trained for policing, spying on children and handling social problems. While the element of fear among teachers reflects their own insecurity, it also points to the deterioration of values in our society. According to Statistics Canada, the proportion of traditionally stable, united families with two parents has declined from 55 per cent in 1980 to only 44 per cent in 2001.

About one-third of all marriages end in divorce. Nearly 30 per cent of second marriages also end in divorce. Single parents head almost 16 per cent of all families; nearly 25 per cent of our children live with a single parent.

Can we ignore the link between a distracted child and a destroyed home?

Broken homes and hearts are followed by a period of frustration and sadness. Children react to the injustices done to them.

This is the beginning of the changing face of innocence, as children start developing negative feelings toward their parents. Some parents are not responsive to their children’s wounded psyches because of their own selfish desires and unstable personal lives.

Children pass through a series of trials and tribulations in their teenage years associated with biological changes and personality development. They often are ready to take risks without thinking about the consequences.

At this juncture, children require extreme care and the attention of both parents. If ignored, they can go in any direction. How can we expect good behaviour from a parent-deprived child?

Behaviour is learned at home. Teachers enter the scene later.

The disintegrating moral fabric of society is the root cause of this issue. What lessons are we conveying to our children? Child benefit programs and emotionless financial support from a distant father cannot satisfy a child’s need for love. Who can replace the comfort of the mother’s lap?

These are problems that cannot be resolved by sniffer dogs, body searches or increased government funding. Instead we should search our own conscience. We cannot create a monster and then complain when it destroys a few buildings.

We will continue to face the consequences of the actions of wounded children unless their parents provide a stable family environment. The parents should reassess their desires and duties. If we can mend our homes, we can definitely save the inhabitants.

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