THE SCENARIO: A woman’s seven-year-old son puts his hand inside his mum’s shirt in public. She is charged with indecent dealing with a minor. Community Services removes the boy. That was in December, 2008.
When the NewsMail reported the court case today, they expected the mother and son to be reunited in two to four weeks.
There are so many variables that I don’t know, but by her own admission she had an issue with boundaries since she was abused as a child.
But for more than three years this child’s been away from his mother. Because he put his hand in her shirt.
That, to me, is terrifying.
That someone can deem an act inappropriate and remove your own child from your care for so long. It’s incredulous when I’ve seen other children suffer much worse neglect at the hands of their parents and their children are returned to them, time and time again.
It saddened me to read of the distress this caused the boy and his mother.
I can’t even begin to imagine.
But I wonder two things: one) was his hand (I hate using this word) groping or merely resting on her breast? And was this a measure of comfort that had been happening for years?
Is it really any different to the small child who hides their face in your lap when they’re embarassed?
That train of thought begs the question that breastfeeding mothers have been arguing for years – what is a breast? It’s not just about sexual objectification. It’s a source of nourishment and comfort and it CAN be a source of fascination to older children.
If the son did this to his dad, the situation would have been very different. So to what extent do women – do mothers – have to defend themselves when it comes to their chest?
Secondly, how do we decide when something is inappropriate? And does it depend on a child’s age? I can understand, if the act really was awkward for those who witnessed it, that they felt obliged to say something, do something. After all, what if something much worse is going on behind closed doors?
It can be incredibly difficult to trust your instinct when it comes to another person’s child. It takes guts to act on your convictions. But what if you’re mistaken?
Three-plus years is a long time for a family to pay the price for a social mishap.
Everything about this story shocked me. But what stuck with my subconscious was the ability to lose your children at the hands of others; of other parents, of the courts and community services.
The night I read this, I dreamt that I’d left my daughter napping in one town as I drove to another. I was meant to put her in the car, but in my haste forgot, and two hours later I was beside the highway, an hysterical mess.
I had no one to call on to check on her before I could get back and I knew I had to ring the police. But what if they considered me a neglectful parent? Would I ever get her back?
I rang the police and they checked on her and they told me they’d take her back to the station with them…. “where I could come pick her up”. I wept with relief.
I’d love to know what others think. Was this action warranted? Would you have reported it? Have you seen anything that you felt needed to be reported? Or have you been reported for something?