The death of little Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at the hands of his dad and stepmother goes against every parenting instinct most of us ever experience, writes dad of one James Ide
Like most people, I’ve always been shocked and disgusted when stories of abuse of children come up.
But since having my own son last year, stories like what happened to poor little Arthur Labinjo-Hughes just cut so much deeper as I cannot imagine this happening to my little boy.
The first thing you ask yourself is why anyone would do this to a child? Were they victims of abuse themselves, or perhaps there is a mental health issue? But very quickly you realise there is no acceptable reason for this, ever.
When I became a dad, and I suspect it’s the same for most, as soon as I held my child in my arms for the first time, I made a promise to love and protect this tiny precious thing with everything I have, for as long as I live.
The amount of sheer trust the little person has in you is sobering, from leaping off furniture and expecting to be caught, to smaller things, and you cannot betray that trust, which is why Arthur’s case is so heart-breaking.
Listening to him in the haunting CCTV footage crying “no-one loves me,” and “no-one’s gonna feed me” is so horrific. It makes you realise that the physical abuse and the mental damage to this child was so extensive that he felt that no one loved him during his short and violence-filled life.
The sustained torture Arthur went through is just devastating. How any person could do this and how any parent could be complicit in this, I just cannot wrap my head around.
Arthur’s tragic death is a very clear indication that there needs to be some drastic changes within our social care system. To have been let down so badly that his cries went unheard is unacceptable.
Someone I know is going through a lengthy court battle with an abusive parent, but as a dad, the system is stacked against him, and whenever any headway is made the mother’s claims of mental health problems, substance abuse and allegations of assault – as well as free funding – prolong the case.
Seeing him get slowly worn down while his child is neglected and told “daddy doesn’t love you” and watching this be allowed to happen already shook my faith in our social care system. Arthur’s death has practically buried it.
There is a great deal of pressure placed on dads as we are often seen as less maternal and less caring or as less involved in parenting, and of course, this is a myth.
Sadly, Arthur’s case does little to shake this notion and Thomas Hughes’ complicity in his son’s death should haunt him for the rest of his life.
My point is there are more Arthurs out there and they are being let down. We need to see change, we need to be more vigilant, and we need to make sure these shocking cases become a thing of the past.