Today has been a strange day. A tired day, and not for the usual reasons. I couldn't sleep last night, and when I did I had only nightmares. See, I had watched a horror before bed, only it never quite ended. Last night, during RTE's Breach Of Trust documentary, I had a similar feeling that I have when watching a fictional protagonist suffering at the hands of injustice; empathy, despair, rage, bewilderment. I usually get caught up in the drama of the moment, but then the credits roll, life goes back to normal. Only these horrific scenes on our screen weren't fictional or even reconstructions. They had happened in the last few months, close by, and we were unaware. Why? Because the victims could not tell us what was going on; they were infants and toddlers.
Many had tuned in, and media coverage was widespread this morning. Those who hadn't watched were filled in on the most abusive moments that children had endured during their day at crèche; bring shouted and sworn at, roughly handled, flipped onto mattresses, punished harshly for "crimes" they didn't understand, humiliated, restrained for lengthy periods of time, isolated, neglected and more.
I assumed that the crèches featured would not dare open their doors this morning. They did.
Outside intervention, then. Surely the HSE would finally take action and enforce closure, considering the obvious abuse of children's human rights that the country just witnessed? They're reviewing, apologizing, making more promises. And we continue on as normal.
Yes, there is some outrage. But not nearly enough. What illness does our country suffer from where we fight tooth and nail over the sanctity of the unborn, but couldn't care less about the welfare of the child once they're in the world? This is a developed country, in a recession but far better off than many. Parents trusted these establishments with their children and paid dearly for the privilege. Those children will never get that precious developmental time back. Based on the statistics in the programme, this failure to meet basic standards of care is widespread. We have discovered that our country's children are in a state of emergency, and our response, and the response of the State, is not reacting accordingly. Why?!
Parents need to start asking questions. Childcare facilities need to show transparency. Our government needs to act, and quickly. It is our duty as a nation to care for our young; Ireland has allowed the abuse of its children for far too long. Do we have to wait until these infants are adults and must be their own advocates before we condemn their suffering, as we did with institutional abuse rampant for the last generation?
This frustrated mother sincerely hopes not.