Don’t give up on street kids

How many 13-year-old girls do you know who have had a miscarriage, an abortion, been raped twice, beaten by an adoptive father since very early childhood, and are still able to look on life with hope?

How many 13-year-old girls do you know who have had a miscarriage, an abortion, been raped twice, beaten by an adoptive father since very early childhood, and are still able to look on life with hope?

No, I am not talking about a girl in some Third World country, but here in Red Deer. Well I know of one for sure now but I also know there are more.

The other day I received a four-page autobiography from an 18-year-old that took the sunshine right out of my day. I had an anger well up inside of me that even scared me when I read this document.

My first thoughts were against the perpetrators, and the multitude of ways to emasculate them, but I soon realized that was the wrong way to approach this whole subject. Two wrongs don’t make a right type of thing.

As I read through this autobiography, I was struck by the fact that rather than lose contact with her siblings, or risk further beatings from her “dad,” she lied to the family services investigator, denying the beatings, her only hope being to keep her family together.

Eventually she was moved to a foster home.

Even as I write this, my blood starts to boil, and my thoughts become destructive. I am not perfect, but this made me want to get a stick with a nail in it and find imaginative ways to use it.

Some weeks ago, I wrote a blog stating that pot was a stepping stone to harder drugs, something for which I was thoroughly criticized by people who maintain that there is no statistical proof. My response to that is that stats are only as good as those compiling them. My evidence comes from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

The young girl in the autobiography, by 13, was smoking pot to relieve the stress in her life and, by her own words, stated that pot was not enough and so she turned to other harder drugs.

This is something that I hear every day and if I hear one person say “Well, that’s those people downtown,”

I will be the first to remind the critics that they themselves are probably only one or two paycheques away from the same place.

My greatest fear in writing this article is that within a short period of time after reading this, most of us will have forgotten all about it or the young girl in question. Rather, she and the others like her will instead be criticized for their aberrant behaviours, which, by the way, are only attention getters or cries for help.

Where in all of this is the compassion from the society that put her and those in the same state on the street in the first place?

We might be offended by that comment, but by ignoring the abuses that continue to happen, we become complicit in the results.

If we don’t want more of our children on the street, we have to get off of our duffs and take control of situations like this.

I’m sure that I will get some comments about my ignorance of facts in this case, but for heaven’s sake people, this girl should at 18 be putting away things of her childhood and preparing to enter adult life, instead we as a society have placed a weight on her that unless we intervene will become a statistic of street mortality.

Even now, she is continuing on a downhill slide. I can only hope and pray that this precocious girl can one day experience life without that weight of her past holding her captive to the street.

Chris Salomons is kitchen co-ordinator for Potter’s Hands ministry in Red Deer.