On the 21st July this year, an incident occurred which terrified parents up and down the country, and horrified anybody with an ounce of humanity. A small, innocent, vulnerable boy had a corrosive substance deliberately thrown in his face by an adult. I cannot believe I just typed that sentence; never did I imagine that we lived in a world that cruel. And yet it happened – in a public place, in the light of day.
The callous and brutal nature of what took place is so shocking, so appalling because it shows that there are no limits left. Men have long fought one another, but most draw the line at women; some men are pathetic enough to prey on women weaker than themselves – but would never raise their fist to a minor. The day that we discover a child, so little that they’re sitting in a pushchair, can become the victim of such wicked barbarity, is the day many of us feel the world reached its lowest low.
It got worse: the incident was not carried out by one deranged maniac. It was a premeditated attack, discussed and planned and executed by a group. Cowards.
Scarred for Life
Without having met the family involved or being any wiser to the circumstances than anyone else following the story, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that boy’s life has been ruined. He will very likely be physically scarred for life.
He will almost certainly be traumatised for life.
I knew somebody once who was severely scarred all over their body and across their face, and I have seen firsthand the impact that can have. I understand it personally to a far lesser extent because I too have extensive scarring on one arm.
The crime is abhorrent, the injuries heartbreaking.
There was one tiny, tiny saving grace which made some people breathe a shameful sigh of relief: it has been suggested that the intended victim was the mother, that the perpetrator missed his mark and inadvertently struck the boy. It feels very wrong to be grateful for the fact that somebody else, a different innocent party, was the target.
But, whether by error or by design, the acid was thrown at the toddler – and I think we’d all agree anything would be preferable to that.
And yet… This is very shortsighted.
The Reality of ‘Sparing’ the Boy
Yes, of course it be better if the young child had never sustained chemical burns to his face and arm. But what would have been every bit as devastating for that boy is watching his mother writhing in agony, with nobody there to comfort him.
He may have been spared the physical pain he endured, but he would have been just as terrified – and he would not have had his mother’s reassuring and capable arms to offer him solace.
So whether the hearsay is true or not, the reality is that fateful morning was always going to leave a small boy with deep scars, and he was always going to be a victim of the evil of those men. One way or another, whether they realised it or not, those adults absolutely planned to destroy a three year old’s life.
A Legacy of Trauma
Worst of all? That little boy will have to find a way to make peace with the identity of the mastermind behind the hateful crime: his daddy.
We should not underestimate the potential we have to shape the future wellbeing of our children. The majority of the power we hold is not in our physical strength, but in our influence both emotionally and psychologically, and that man’s legacy to his son is a lifetime of battles to overcome.
No matter who the substance was intended to hurt and disfigure, a father set out to cause unimaginable suffering to his child. He succeeded, that day, and for the rest of his son’s life.