It’s just too easy to assume there’s only good and evil

I have struggled to stop thinking about that poor wee girl who was attacked in a New Zealand campground late last year. For everyone overseas, her family was travelling around NZ, her parents had nipped next door, and a teenage boy had broken into their caravan and attacked her so badly she required hours of surgery.

It was a heinous act and until last week, I thought there was simply nothing that could explain something that evil.

Until, of course, some blanks were filled in.

This boy was the victim of sexual abuse himself, but unlike the horror the whole nation felt at his actions, he suffered in silence. My understanding is that although it was admitted as evidence in this case, and believed, no one has been held accountable to the crimes committed on him as a child. I have no comprehension of how it must feel to have gone through something so bad, and have no one acknowledge to you that it was wrong, and that you deserve better. How even today, when telling a court and having them believe you, the perpetrators still go unpunished.

His parents are losers. Gang rivals, wife beaters, child abusers and the types of people I cannot comprehend. They simply did not love their children in any way that the likes of me understand to be normal. I imagine they too, are victims of their own horrendous lives, and so the cycle continues. But to actually sit back and imagine life as an unwanted, abused and abandoned child, is actually unbelievable to most of us. We simply have no understanding of the impacts on people, of how fundamentally different their world is to most of ours.

The reason I write this is not because Im sitting here crying for that boy. Some combination of nature and nurture has led to this, and I completely agree that nurture on its on would not guide two different people to this same outcome. He made his own, stupid, horrendous decisions, and their impact will be ongoing and awful beyond belief.

Im writing it because I still can’t get my head around the fact that situations like the one the boy grew up in exist. In my country. Probably all too often. And those sorts of situations, while seemingly cliched, are the biggest breeding ground of unspeakable crimes. We need to stop rolling our eyes when criminals claim their background as a factor, and realise that those backgrounds may actually be partially responsible. As a side note, we probably also need to figure out a way to offset the reduced sentences handed down by prosecuting those who committed the crimes that were used to excuse later behavior of the victims.

Its easy to assume that some people are inherently evil. It makes sitting on your high horse easy. It makes your anger justified and tidy. It helps you separate yourself from the acts of others and feel secure. But it’s totally not true and more importantly, it doesn’t stop it happening.

I suppose a bunch of people are calling out to ask how on earth this kid grew up in New Zealand, in this way, without reasonable help. I wonder if that in any community, it doesn’t matter what’s in place, there will always be cracks, and people will always fall through them, and therefore crimes like these will still happen. I’ve got zero ideas on how that can change, but I also have about the same amount of patience for anyone to smugly claim that crimes like this happen solely because of the presence of evil.