Do children have a right to grow up in a secure environment?

I’m not even talking about a loving environment, just one that provides security that helps the child develop self confidence and a balanced view of life.  Instead of an environment in which the child is constantly fearful for his safety and wellbeing from being threatened with abuse or abandonment. If children have such rights, should they not be removed from parents who are unable to provide this basic and fundamental need? Is it better to have 2 dysfunctional parents or none at all?  It seems like a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.

He is 13 yo, an age when children should be carefree, into music and maybe even discovering puppy love.  Instead he stays out as late as he can because he knows that the minute he reaches home, he will be subject to verbal and psychological abuse by the people who bore him.  He cried while expressing how fearful he was of his parents and how he wish he could run away.  He is more practical than emotional but his pain was clear and hard to bear.  I wished there was something I could do; talk some sense into his parents or failing that, remove him from that toxic environment because of what it is doing to him.  He speaks of suicide as a way out and the fact that he is only 13 makes it more tragic.

I felt helpless to help him and the only way I knew to reach out was to share my history of growing up in an anger and hate-filled environment.  I too was more practical than emotional and throughout my childhood and teenage years, my main motivation was to reach 18 so that I could get a job and leave the house.  Fortunately for me, I had siblings who empathised with me as we were all in the same boat.  Misery loves company and I think that the 3 of us siblings got through those years only because we had each other. Though I was able to ‘escape’ at 18, the psychological scars remain with me and with my siblings.  It is this that I fear for him, that because of this environment he may grow up a cynical and deeply unhappy person, believing that life is filled with pain and misery. If he has children, he may continue the vicious cycle and parent his children the same way. Worst-case: He becomes a serial killer.

I think society has a responsibility for ensuring that children grow up balanced.  Those development years are precious building blocks for our future generation.  So if we don’t want a generation of mass murderers, we should be better parents or if we think we won’t be good parents, just don’t try.  Parenting is not a game of trial and error.

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