This story is just emerging but I expect that over the days and weeks to come, we'll come to know the full horror of it. In a nutshell, police began to investigate a children's home on the island of Jersey in 2006. There were investigating allegations of child sexual and physical abuse which were detailed here. I'm not certain why there was a huge gap in time between police finding out about the abuse in 2006 and then the news getting hold of it in December 2007. I'll be charitable and say that must be the "covert" investigations that the police were purportedly undertaking. I'm not usually a critic of the police but I have to admit that in this case, it feels like a couple of kids abused in the 60s, 70s and 80s simply wasn't a priority for them.
Something changed. A couple of days ago the police received a tip off and it lead them to discover human remains in the house. A child's remains to be precise. Now they are breaking into rooms and digging into cellars and there are definite panic stations.
Now of course, many people are drumming up the courage to contact police to tell them of their own abuse. Based on several reports of a basement area, the police have begun, as I said, to dig into the bricked up cellars and underground rooms and this is where my mind slammed on the brakes. I am fully aware that my imagination is running riot, but I am envisaging an underground torture chamber and I cannot reconcile that with the fact that this place was a children's home.
"A nation's progress can be judged by how they treat their animals." -Gandhi
This quotation has been used by many people over the years to pass comment on the treatment of children, the poor, the workers and so on. I reckon that animals are treated better than many children today. The biggest love in my life (after Le Husband) is my dogs and cats and animal abuse sickens me but that simply pales when you hear about what people do to babies and children.
Take a quick look at this list over at Bonnie's Blog of Crime. Bonnie focuses mainly on US cases but how about the UK? Victoria Climbie (deceased), unnamed child, Jessica Randall (deceased), Ryan Hawkins (deceased), Baby Duncan, Hugo Wang (deceased), Jade Hart (deceased), Aaron Gilbert (deceased), Ainlee Walker (deceased), and Kimberley Baker (deceased).
All of the questions regarding how this happens and how come the schools, social workers and family do nothing to stop it are relevant; but I wonder what it is that switches in a human being's brain to allow them to commit such cruelty? I am aware that those people who are sexually or physically abused often grow up to do the same themselves, I know that people often feel so powerless in their lives that they will take out their rage and fury on any unwitting victim, I know that parenthood can be so frustrating sometimes and that a screaming baby or child can send one over the edge; but how on Earth do you sit and knit or watch TV or converse with your spouse / parent / friend while your child starves to death in the next room? The next room which you have locked.
I am quite sure it is not a short process, starving to death, and a child must cry and scream and bang to be let out. Unless you have beaten them into submission and they die alone and afraid. Like I said, I know there are psychosocial factors that lead a person to abuse another being, be it physical, emotional or sexual abuse; but has the time not come when we, as a postmodern, enlightened society admit that some acts are acts of pure evil and criminality. If these acts exist, would this not mean that such criminals could not be rehabilitated because rehabilitation in itself suggests that there was once a state of normalcy and functioning? In other words, if an act is purely criminal and the possibility exists that the perpetrator is therefore purely criminal, is it not then impossible to "rehabilitate"?
"Rehabilitation means; To restore to useful life, as through therapy and education" - Wikipedia
You can't restore an object to a state it did not previously occupy. There are other words for what you can do, with altogether different definitions.
I wonder what this means for the death penalty argument? I would definitely need to reassess my reasoning regarding criminal acts and evil people before I entered into such an argument.