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Child abuse?

It’s a nice day in Forssa when I visit the Vesihelmi spa. After a 40 minute swim I relax in the jacuzzi. Opposite to where I sit a 5 year old boy is playing with his sister. He is obviously enjoying himself. And while I don’t have kids myself I like to see a happy child. It would not have caught my attention otherwise, but now that I take a closer look at the boy I see spots on his skin in several places. Studying the spots I begin slowly to realize that they look a lot like cigarette burns. My stomach begins to turn itself around. Is it possible?

business man shrugThe boy’s mother is also sitting in the jacuzzi overlooking the things her kids do. She is a bit fat and ugly, but that’s not a crime as far as I know. I can’t really talk to her. Even if I knew Finnish well enough what would I say? Should I notify the personnel in Vesihelmi? That could take some time. The only one who speaks English well enough to understand me is the Thai woman who sells food. A quick look through the window tells me she is not on duty.

What can I do? Is the situation as I think it is? Is the woman really the boy’s mother as I assume or a substitute care giver? The boy is happy. There is no doubt it, but what about the marks on his body? I realize I feel pretty helpless in this situation. Star trek prime directive tells me “Don’t meddle in situations you don’t know anything about”, but is that not a lame excuse for doing nothing?

I decide to talk to a friend in sauna. He knows at least enough English to know what I am talking about. But when I try to talk it over he shuts down. At first it’s like he really does understand what I mean, but when he does, he makes me understand that I should do nothing. None of my business. It is not a very satisfying answer. I try to swim and clear my head. The only conclusion I reach is that without means to talk to someone in authority there is really nothing I can do.

At home I read about cases in the press where child abuse has led to torture or murder. The authorities are to blame of course. They have to judge on daily basis if some case warrants action or not. I wonder if I had that kind of power and training I would have made the right decision. Also now I still don’t know that. Did I do the right thing by not acting? There is no evidence that says I did the wrong thing. Let’s hope for the boy’s sake that I don’t read about him in the newspaper.