© Elwood Herring July 2001

She was a budding ballet dancer;
Handstands, poise and pirouettes,
She played in back streets just like yours -
With tower blocks and maisonettes.
She would have been a superstar
As famous as Madonna
And bring happiness to millions
As the Peckham Prima-Donna...

But she disappeared one sunny day
Whilst on a family picnic -
Just eight years old, she wandered off
to meet a fate horrific.
A funny man had offered her
A ride to see some ponies;
She climbed into his big white van -
So say the testimonies.

She never knew about the search
That lasted two whole weeks -
She never heard her mother's pleas;
Tears streaming down both cheeks.
They found her body in a ditch
Broken and molested,
The papers told the dirty truth -
"Local man arrested".

- o0o -

Little Billy, quiet and shy,
A boy of great potential.
Always reading, always learning...
A genius quintessential.
A surgeon's life was on the cards;
A medical magician -
Our world will be the poorer
With Sir William's omission.

For, aged just twelve, he walked from school
His usual route back home.
By five o'clock, no sign of Bill -
He wasn't one to roam.
A rock thrown through the window
Put an end to speculation -
It seems he was attacked by whites
For simply being asian.

- o0o -

And what about Nurse Alice, with
Her sunny disposition
Who'll make it known throughout the world
That she is on a mission
To bring relief to Third World ills
And find a cure for AIDS -
Without her help, we've seen the price
That millions have paid.

For baby Alice never told
All those that could protect her -
Her "guardians" fed her dog food
In the closet where they kept her.
The social workers found her body
Soaked with blood and faeces
With open sores and broken bones -
Her brief life cut to pieces.

- o0o -

Just one more tale, and then no more
About a special person,
He's out there somewhere in the world
Of that I'm very certain.
He never had ambitions much;
Born with a low I.Q.
But risked his life to save a child
That might just have been you.

But then it never happened, did it?
... Mown down in his youth
By a drunken speeding motorist
is the horrifying truth -
Who left him dying in the road,
And didn't even brake;
The poor lad never lived to see
His seventh birthday cake...

- o0o -

Each baby born into this world
Has rights to be attested:
To make it into adulthood
Without being molested,
Or tortured, cheated, sacrificed
Abused or plain neglected -
Until that happens, we can't claim
Our social conscience, moral aim,
Our way of life, our country's name…

is to be at all respected.

For Damilola Taylor, Sarah Payne, Stephen Lawrence, Victoria Climbié, Lauren Wright,
and all the other bright hopefuls
who will never know what they could have been…
and of course to their grieving parents who can never be consoled.

Also for Jude Akapa (15) who was killed on his way home from school
the same day I wrote this poem.

The list just keeps getting longer...

Addendum: Finally somebody seems to have got the message:
Click here to see a BBC news item dated October 2002

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