Dear Children of the UK,
I write this letter to you as a mother and as a professional. Firstly, I would like to apologise to you for the failings that are taking place daily that lead to so many of you having to suffer significant harm. It was never meant to be like this. When I was a child, I was told many times that things would be different. Get better. But it seems this was a lie.
The death of Dea-John Reid has once again highlighted the failings that us, the adults of the UK, are making. He was aged just 14 and was murdered by adults and peers. Adults….the very people that should have been keeping him safe. There are so many children out here killing each and so…to know that adults took part in his murder is beyond sicking. A year 9 student …attacked and killed by multiple people.
It is reported that Dea-John was murdered by white males. This murder of a 14-year-old black male seems to have be racially motivated. Again. Once again a child has lot their life because of skin colour. I have seen so many social media posts trying to justify this murder talking about social media pictures of Dea-John or some nonsense. I have seen and heard people trying to justify this murder by talking about “Out of control youths”. It must be very frustrating for the children of the UK to be reading and hearing these things, knowing that a 14-year-old child has been murdered and yet…. somehow…people are trying to lay responsibility on the victim. On behalf of society, I apologise for this. I apologise that we the adults continue to lay responsibility on child victims. On any victims. I’m sorry that we the adults try to make the murders of children into some kind of political converse where we argue about stupidness.
We may as well just leave the children lying dead on the streets and step over their bodies. Because that’s the level of respect that is being shown right now. None. Absolutely none by so many adults.
Children of the UK, I am sorry that some people don’t want to hear you and that your voices are often ignored. That you tell people what you want and need, and this is ignored and replaced by what those in power THINK you want and need despite never really walking a day in your shoes. I am sorry that your voices are not respected at times.
Children of the UK, I am sorry that your criminalisation is often put before your safeguarding. That you are treated as a perpetrator within the criminal justice system long before you are recognised as a victim. I am sorry that you are given limited choices in protecting yourself from your own exploitation and I am truly sorry that you are punished for being exploitation. Your own abuse.
I’m sorry that the education system is not designed to support so many of you and if you happen to have SEN it will most likely be ignored once behaviour becomes an issue and, ultimately you could end up out of mainstream education…once again being punished for something you have no control over, and that being out of mainstream education will impact on the rest of your life.
I’m sorry that for those being raised in single parent households (like my own children), that the government is making it harder for your single parent to succeed and grow. That you are labelled a child from a single parent household like it’s something that you should be ashamed of.
I’m sorry that the government has made it hard for many of you to access university. It is disgusting. You should all have equal opportunities to the same level of education as all of your peers. I’m also sorry that this could impact you as an adult and that you may have to work harder than so many other people to achieve your goals because you could not access the education you deserve.
I’m sorry that girls are underrepresented in terms of support that is funded around gangs and exploitation. It seems that until a sexual element is involved you will be greatly ignored.
I’m sorry that children’s mental health services are so under funded that many of you may never get the support you need now yet will have to live with the consequences of not getting the support you needed as a child when trying to navigate the adult world. You will most likely be stigmatised for that also.
I’m sorry that in 2021 you are being racially abused and stereotyped. That you can still die because of the colour of your skin or your religion or sexuality. I hang my head. As we all should.
I’m sorry that you are sexualised by adults. That you are exposed to adults that think its OK to see you as a sexual object. I’m sorry that you are just making your way to school in your uniform and men think its ok to shout out sexual slurs at you. That adult’s may try to approach you, even though its clear you are a child, and act in a sexual manner towards you.
I’m sorry that children are being sexually exploited and no one seems to see this. As a child, you must be very confused as to why adults are not only ignoring what is happening to you, but usually taking part. I’m sorry that most times you report this, extraordinarily little will happen to the perpetrator, and you could be asked questions such as “Why did you go there “or “Why did you dress like that”.
I’m sorry that children are kicked out of their homes for being part of the LBGTQ+ community.
I could go on and on.
Growing up, I thought that things would change one day. That thing would get better. That adult would learn from mistakes and make changes.
Dear children of the UK, I want you to know that even though all the above is true, there is something you need to know. There are people like me, lots of us, that want to make change. There are people like me who would step in if you were being racially abused or attacked. Who want to make things better. Who are trying to understand how to make the world a safer place for you. There are people like me who can’t sleep at night knowing that 14-year-old children are being stabbed to death by other young people and adults.
I’m sorry that things have got like this. I can’t tell you it will get better, because from where I am standing, that’s a big statement to make with very little evidence to back it.
But what I will promise you is that I, and so many like me, will never stop trying to make change. We will never give up on you. We will never ignore the fact that your being abused, exploited, and murdered on our streets. We will never except any of the above.
I am sorry that the UK does not come to a stand still every time a child is murdered on our streets.