Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Independent: 'I've got kids who sleep with knives under their pillows'

[...] Many of the children Batmanghelidjh helps have, like Peter, suffered from both neglect and physical violence. "If you are a child living with a drug addict, for example, drug dealers could and will burst into the house at any time of night or day. You are always in debt to them. Girls are often violated by the drug dealers at a young age, and pretty quickly [the dealers] want young boys to come and work for them. I've got kids who sleep with knives under their pillows because they don't know what's going to happen in the middle of the night. They live in constant terror and they are very jumpy their brains become different in structure and chemistry from other people's.

"These sorts of children don't care if they live or die. They are very brave and they cause great harm because they have nothing to lose."

Samuel is another child at Kids Company HQ today. Batmanghelidjh met him when he was five she found him wandering the streets of a rich London neighbourhood in the middle of winter with no shirt on. She started talking to him and he led her back to the flat he lived in with his mother; Batmanghelidjh quickly discovered that Samuel's mother was a crack addict who was unable to care for him. His father had died from an overdose.

"I tried to get his case picked up by social services, but because he wasn't being beaten he didn't meet their criteria.

"He was left without food, appropriate clothing or bedding. He had to cope with drug dealers coming in and out of the house, who often attacked both him and his mother." The most violent and dangerous children are those, like Samuel, who have been violently abused. "Not all children who have been abused go on to abuse, but all abusers have been abused themselves."

Batmanghelidjh rejects the idea that violent video games or rap music have much to do with these very serious cases. "The most dangerous children are those who have experienced violence first-hand, behind closed doors. Other children, who have been well cared-for at home, can come across these very violent children and have to mimic their behaviour to protect themselves from it. It's those children who are more likely to be influenced by violence in films, video games and rap music." Read more[...]
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