Childcare Abuse: Mirror of the 21st Century Society ?

Photo: Unsplash

We cringe when we hear about another horrifying childcare abuse story, such as the abusive daycare workers that were arrested last week, both in Israel and Arkansas.

Inconceivable as it is, abuse in daycare centers appears to be systematic and widespread. Data gathered from 39 states in the U.S., for instance, shows that 5,321 daycare providers were found abusive. In Israel, efforts are being made to push legislation that will require all kindergartens to install security cameras, as parents realize that no one can guarantee their children’s safety.

But what is causing those we hire to take care of our children to behave in such a monstrous way? And how can we constrain this phenomenon when we don’t have control over what happens inside daycare centers?

It’s hard to grasp, but these horrifying incidents reveal the cold, stony heart that beats within the human being. When the ego overpowers us, it floods us with such a high degree of agitation and fury that conquers all, driving us to harm anyone in our way, even a helpless little toddler.

And with little children who cannot express themselves well, there’s nothing to stop the monster from breaking out. Likewise, data shows that the age group most likely to be abused is between 0 and 3 years of age.

“What Kind of Monster Can Do That?”

“If I myself had seen such a video online,” said the Israeli kindergarten teacher as she was shown footage of her own abusive behavior, “I would ask: what kind of a monster can do that?”

Evidently, we cannot see our own fault in the moment of truth. The stony heart blinds us and removes the sense of guilt, causing us to lose our senses without being aware of it.

Thus, even if we put cameras everywhere — we won’t be solving the root problem. The monster lies within every caregiver, and in fact, in every one of us. The question is who awakens the monster from its sleep?

We can easily blame individuals for their abusive actions, and we should certainly prevent them from continuing. But these are merely results that float above the surface. The monster that awakens is a social disease that has been incubating for decades and is erupting increasingly in our time.

How We Got Here

Until the midst of the 20th century, raising kids was completely different to what we are now used to, and yet closer to our natural development as human beings. Mothers used to have better conditions for bringing up children and caring for their wellbeing. And they were socially acknowledged for doing so.

Then came the industrial revolution, along with powerful vested interests who sought to modify the social order for the sake of profit. Efforts were made to drive women into the workforce, by relating it to liberal ideals of women’s emancipation and their equal status in society. That was in order to maximize production and consumption to a level the world has never seen before.

The resulting consumer society was designed to plunder the planet’s resources so as to orient human life around material excess. Gradually, people embraced a new lifestyle that reshaped the social order and the family unit.

However, as happiness studies uncover, neither we nor the wealthy few actually find any genuine satisfaction and comfort in the cyclical chase for material acquisition.

The result? A society where toddlers are torn from their mothers and thrown into the hands of a nanny who also competes in the material race. A “free” society where everything is permitted and boundaries are blurry. A society where the natural connection between parent and child has been significantly compromised and devalued. A society where monstrous, uninhibited ego can erupt even towards helpless toddlers.

Childcare abuse is the mirror of human society in the 21st century.

Our Children Need a Social Revolution

So what are we going to do about it? How will we prevent similar incidents in the future? How will we heal the sickness of our society?

As long as we fail to work towards a fundamental change in social values, we can all pledge guilty for the abuse in daycare centers.

This is not a call to go back in time. On the contrary. It’s a wake-up call for the next revolution to occur. Just as the industrial revolution taught us to lead a material lifestyle — the next revolution must teach us to lead a social lifestyle.

First, we must re-prioritize education. It should become society’s most valued profession. An educator must receive social recognition along with the conditions to maintain professional integrity. We have to choose caregivers who prove their passion to bring up our children, who will gain a deep understanding of human nature, and who will be trained extensively to practice restraint and self-control in any situation.

These are just a few preconditions for any educator who works with children. But the true revolution will happen when we, adults, will sit together in circles, much like in kindergarten, and cultivate the human being within us, against the monster that may awaken.

When we redefine the goal of life, we will replace the material rat-race with a growing sensitivity to our deep human connection, and it will give us a new sense of meaning and fulfillment.

Specifically the wisdom of Kabbalah becoming revealed in our time, is designed to shed light on the natural human connections between people and help us develop them to the ultimate level: discovering the system of connection the binds all of us together as a single family.