It tore my heart out a few days ago when I watched online videos showing teachers from a company's day-care center in Shanghai pushing toddlers to the ground and feeding them mustard. Explosive anger would be an understatement to describe my feelings when I found similar incidents recurring within a short time right near me.
Employees of a kindergarten in Beijing were accused of assaulting children Tuesday. According to reports, teachers there have been hitting on the head, pinching eyes and noses, punching the abdomens and even twisting private parts of children as punishment for being naughty.
Fear, frustration and outrage are affecting every parent who has read the stories. A friend of mine gritted her teeth, "I don't know what our law is going to do to the abusers, but if my child is hurt, I know what I am going to do with my fist."
It's hard to imagine how they can possibly hurt those innocent little ones. What the perpetrators have done is far from disciplining the children. They were simply venting their rage upon the kids, or worse, they were purely attacking them.
But the little ones are the apple of their parents' eye. As a new mom, my heart aches every time I hear my baby cry, so imagine how desperate those parents must be when they found their dearest ones being victimized.
Some say it is the lack of relevant laws and regulations to protect children that has led to the misfortune. Some say that it is too easy to become a teacher in some childcare facilities since there are no criteria for applicants' educational background while the facilities are only willing to pay low salaries.
Though progress in child protection has been made over the years in Chinese law, still, quite a few aspects in this field are to be improved. A slow remedy, however, does not address the current emergency.
In the past few days, I kept thinking about the injured children who are not much older than my own baby. How have they been doing? The abuse they have just gone through is surely more than bruises, which can heal with time. How about invisible damage to their emotions? Have the incidents left deep scare on their heart? How, and how long can they recover from that?
Being immersed in agony and outrage without providing reassurance and unconditional support in time should not be the first reaction of parents, at least not in front of their children. Granted, it is hard. But at this very moment, what the wounded toddlers need is a safe and loving environment that is free from blame, judgment and harm.
If adults want to pay back violence with violence, their children may be more frightened. If adults were depressed, their children may be tormented with remorse. If adults kept showing a wide range of reactions and feelings, their children may feel even more anxious.
That said, despite all the difficulties to work through their own feelings, parents must heal themselves before healing their babies. Being a parent means we have not many alternatives than remaining tough ourselves whatever the circumstances. Reassuring our sweethearts and providing whatever help we can when needed is more significant than self-pity and rage, because our toddlers are counting on us for support.
Though child abuse is not that frequent, it would not completely go away. However, I am willing to believe that there are many more loving and caring educators in childcare centers and kindergartens, and abusers will get the punishment they deserve, and become fewer following the introduction of stricter laws.
The world is cruel. I would not avoid reminding that to my boy, but I'll tell him I got his back. Besides, I'll show him how to love the world, love our lives and fight hard for all the beauty in it.