Opinion

We should all join the fight for kids

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IS IT just me or did everyone hug their children a little tighter this week?

The news of Tiahleigh Palmer's abuse and murder has been terrible to hear.

 

For most of us, child protection is like breathing.

Our own kids are sheltered from danger and safe in their beds. We would slay dragons for them.

It's time we thought about other peoples' kids, too.

A very dear girlfriend of mine, Alison, will bury her mother Margaret this week.

Margaret was born the second child to a 17-year-old mother. Margaret's father was a violent alcoholic.

Alison doesn't know a lot about her mum's childhood except that it was unhappy, her violent father died very young and Margaret never forgave her young mother for failing to protect her children from harm.

What Alison does know is that her mother struggled every day to put the past behind her. Despite a devoted husband and three loving, successful children, happiness eluded Margaret.

Alison says her mother suffered OCD and her excessive meddling in the lives of her children and grandchildren caused a lot of friction and heartache.

It was common for Margaret to pick fights with family members and to punish people by holding them at a distance. Alison also admits the family never understood the depth of Margaret's pain and anger.

It wasn't until last year that Margaret disclosed she was a victim of child sexual abuse which began when she was seven years old.

Last month, Margaret met her son and his family in America for a holiday.

Instead of flying home on schedule, Margaret announced she would fulfil a lifelong dream of seeing Canada.

Everyone was thrilled to see her so happy.

Late last week, police knocked on the door of Alison's family home.

Margaret was not in Canada, she had flown to South America and taken her own life.

No warning, no note, no goodbye.

Apparently information about the countries that make suicide easy is freely available on the web and Margaret had done her research.

I don't think anyone can imagine what Alison's family has been through this week.

But my friend is very strong. She wants people to understand her mother's death is the very real and painful result of not putting children first.

Alison works in child protection and she is constantly frustrated by a system that prioritises the needs of parents.

Margaret was an abused child who grew into a broken adult. Her pain will echo through eternity.

A review of foster care and the blue-card system is underway but you and I can do something, too.

It's simple, the Coast needs more foster carers to fight for kids.

Check out www.fostercare.com.au or phone 5456 8401.

Topics:  caroline hutchinson, child abuse, column, foster care, foster carers, opinion


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