Fairy tales are rife with child abuse and neglect. Have you ever realized this? I'm not talking about the Disney versions either (which are fairly tame). I'm talking about the way they were recorded by the Brothers Grimm and other storytellers of old. Some of those stories are so... well... grim that we shy away from letting children read them. Yet, once upon a time they were told to prepare children for the world. And now, we have real stories of child abuse and neglect that would make Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm grimace.
So here's where I want to go with this. I'm going to tell you the story of 5 abused or neglected children. You guess if the story is fact, or fairy tale. Ready? Then let's begin.
Story 1: A young girl is locked in a closet for 4 years while her siblings are instructed to lie about her existence. When she is found, she is severely malnourished and weighs only 25 pounds. Fact or Fairy Tale?
Story 2: A nearly-blind woman and her daughter approach authorities looking for help. At first the daughter is believed to be only 6 or 7 years old. But the mother reveals that the girl is actually 13. The authorities investigate the home to find that the girl has been locked in a dark room where she spends her days strapped to a potty chair. As a result the girl is malnourished, still in diapers, and incapable of speech. Fact or Fairy Tale?
Story 3: Upon the death of his wife, a man intends to make their daughter his bride. She disguises herself as a transient and runs away, searching for a job in another town. Fact or Fairy Tale?
Story 4: To discipline their children, the parents lock them in a box in the bottom of a closet for hours on end. They also lead the children to believe the mother is pregnant with twins who are stillborn half way through the fake pregnancy, going so far as to have a funeral for the non-existent babies. Fact or Fairy Tale?
Story 5: A man is visiting a house one night and rapes the daughter of the homeowner. The daughter becomes pregnant and gives birth to twins. Shortly after the visitor returns and learns that he has fathered the two children. Then he returns to his home and one night his wife hears him talking in his sleep about the twins. She then plots to kills the girl he raped and the twins. Fact or Fairy Tale?
There are worse stories out there that are true. Fortunately, here in York, NE, most of our stories are about average people making poor choices and the children suffer as a result. Sometime I'll tell you about the worst case scene in York County, but not today. For now I want to you to understand that reality can be much worse than a story in a book. No child should be made to suffer because of the choices of the adults who are supposed to care for them.
Story 1: Fact
Story 2: Fact
Story 3: Fairy Tale
Story 4: Fact
Story 5: Fairy Tale
by Melody K. Coehoorn