Once again, it’s kids to the rescue!
On a recent Saturday, two schoolboys spotted a kitten floating down a canal in Leeds, northeast England. The tiny creature, who the RSPCA estimates is about 9 weeks old, was in a pink basket that was quickly filling with water.
The boys’ parents must have taught them well, because they jumped right into action and rescued the perilously positioned feline. They brought him home, the RSPCA was contacted, and now the kitten, who was given the name Mo (short for Moses), is safely in the organization’s care until he’s ready to be adopted.
This isn’t the first time kids have made the news for taking heroic measures to save cats’ lives and protect them from danger. Earlier this year, a 9-year-old boy fought off a knife-wielding bully to save a kitten’s life; on another day, four children rescued a kitten a woman and her two sons had beaten almost to death.
It’s natural for the media to sit up and take notice when children do kind and brave things, and it’s certainly a nice break from the hand-wringing and alarmist “Our children are a menace to society!” stories with which we’re constantly inundated. But three stories of children who came to the rescue of cats that were victims of adult cruelty got me wondering, “What’s wrong with this picture?”
Clearly these heroic children were raised right or at least, they were blessed with an instinctive moral compass guiding them on the path of compassion and kindness but why should they have to witness the horrors that the Florida kids saw, put their own lives at risk, or wade into canals teeming with God-only-knows-what in the first place? Where were the adults?
How many “grown-ups” saw the abuse? How many “grown-ups” watched as someone set the kitten afloat in a leaking laundry basket? How many “grown-ups” turned their heads and left the children to solve the problem?
It’s no wonder there are so many novels about children who face unearthly horrors or undertake perilous quests to save the world from evil while their parents and other adults ignore the problem or outright mock them for their “overactive imaginations”; these stories are based firmly in the truth about the way the world works. Although a lot of these novels are labeled “young adult” stories, they’re popular with not-so-young adults, too (think of the Harry Potter series or the Hunger Games trilogy, for example). Why? Because we can relate to the protagonists. We, too, were once those kids who felt alone in a world too big for us to handle, or forced to take on tasks that should have been dealt with by adults.
Let’s stop averting our eyes and leaving our children to clean up our mess. Let’s make the commitment to let the children in our lives know that we will take action when we see cruelty and violence, and that we do care for and love those who have no voice. Let’s teach them not to get over being so idealistic as to think adults should practice the compassion and courage we expect of them.
Every little thing we do helps. Whether it’s adopting shelter cats or fostering animals in need of temporary homes and explaining (at an age-appropriate level) why they ended up at the shelter and how important it is to give them homes, taking action if we see a cat or dog stuck in a car on a hot day, or even something as simple as putting a spider outside instead of killing it let’s live up to the values our parents taught us.
And maybe someday, if we’re lucky, we too will get the chance to be heroes, like the schoolkids who pulled a tiny black-and-white kitten out of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.