It is Better that a Boy Should Break his Neck . . .

By David Herz

Posted on Apr 28, 2015 by in General


A while back, a child of one of my neighbors was exchanging punches with another one around the four square court in front of my house. I intervened to stop this. The other child stopped, and started to walk away. This one didn't and starting following to complete what had been started. As he was about to engage again, I picked him up and carried him to his house with the intention of engaging in a conversation there. Instead, I got an earful from an angry mother about how I shouldn't be interfering in the affairs of children, and that I should let them work it out. So I've stayed clear.


Some time later, this family was visiting a nearby community. While there, their two year old wandered off and fell in a pool. That child was found unconscious some time later, and has been in the hospital since.

Though this is certainly tragic and is an event I would wish on no person, I couldn't help thinking that I wasn't exactly surprised. Children left to figure out the world on their own may not meet every challenge successfully.


I am reminded of the observation in Jeffrey v. London County Council (1954) 52 LGR 521 [1954] CLY 2241, “It is better that a boy should break his neck than allow other people to break his spirit.” And I am aware of numerous cases where people with broken necks have gone on to do great things.


But there is a middle ground. We certainly can find a way to let a child test his world and find his way without taking risks the result of which could be an early termination of all experiments and growth. And perhaps that requires a little more presence of those who could guide and keep a child safe.


The two-year old has suffered brain damage, and the prognosis is not good. In the meantime, the first-mentioned child has been party to the mischief that children sometimes are (one of mine was also present). When the children and parents convened to address the damage caused and determine the mode of restitution, neither of this child's parents was present.


Now I hear that they plan to bring their two year old home. And I can't help but wonder at what expense to the other four children.

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This entry was posted by David Herz and filed under General. Tags: Parenting, broken neck.

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