IN MY VIEW: When we do not hear from a friend

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When we do not hear from a friend, colleague or family we begin to question why. “I wonder what is happening. They should at least call or write…” and so on. We feel the need to get to the bottom of the dead air, as it were. This is a highlight of a relationship between individuals.

As a socially-oriented society, the need for communicating is high on our list of things to do. A short call to make sure everything is okay usually puts our mind at ease.

Our ‘little ones’ are no different. The lack of physical contact, no effort in cuddling or cooing with them makes them feel isolated and lonely. Soon they become vocal in their desire to be included and they whimper and begin to cry in anticipation of being noticed.

Ever feel that way? Sociologists and psychiatrists, along with social workers, wrestle with this when a referral comes to them and they try to picture what is or isn’t happening in the homes.

As the investigation unfolds, it is soon recognized that neglect is a result of abuse, and substance use has escalated from supposed social use to addiction. The child tax, family allowances and wages are now used for the habit at the expense of food, shelter and clothing.

It is well noted across Nunavut that over-crowded housing – with multiple family members in small out-dated units – is a breeding ground for such activities. A dwelling place is more than the structure, it is the development of social skills, bonding and planning. It is a place considered to be safe and nurturing.

This changes drastically if overcrowding living conditions continue for a long period of time. Soon we see that only one member is ensuring that food is on the table and proper clothing is provided. Everything begins to fall apart. The unit they are in shows signs of wear-and-tear and the health of the occupants begins to deteriorate very quickly.

We learn in social work that there are two kinds of assistance; a neighbourly type of help and an informed, trained type of help for those in need. If we could always remember to help when and where we can, this often gives the needy some hope that people around us care and are willing to demonstrate their humanity.