Without the basic necessities such as water and sunlight, a flower will not bloom into a beautiful, colorful creation, but rather wilt into a brown, unrecognizable mess. Just like a flower needs water and sunlight to thrive, a child requires support from a guardian to prosper in every aspect. A secure support system t in a child’s life creates healthy relationships as well as providing the child with a positive perspective and mindset.
However in the lives of Perry Smith, a cold blooded killer in the novel In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, child soldiers, and the children of the street, support from the family is seldom displayed. The absence of support leads these persons to lives filled with hostility and violence; lives of adversity. This goes to show, the absence of support from a parent figure or family unit has negative impacts on a child 's lifestyle.
Throughout numerous areas around the globe, the reality of children living on the street has become a significant issue. This problem is mainly due to the family’s inability to provide adequate care and resources for their child, “Children end up on the streets for a number of reasons, many of which are rooted in family instability and poverty,” (The Children of the Street). Instead of worrying about what games to play or who to play with, these adolescents have to worry about what they will eat for the day or where they will sleep for the night.
Children who have ended up on the streets are forced to fend for themselves, “stripping youth of their humanity and burdening them with the everyday concern of survival,” (O’Haire). Life on the streets for youth have often proved to be treacherous and quite the struggle, however, the children become increasingly resilient in order to survive the harsh environment. These kids will turn to organizations, such as gangs, to provide the support of “family unit” as well as to satisfy the sense of belonging to a bigger cause. Often times, these gangs are linked to continuous cycles of heinous crimes and violence.
Along with criminal activity, adolescents have been shown to also turn to substance and/or drug usage to endure the extreme conditions of the environment they are forced to live in, “We sniff glue because we need to. We steal- watches, necklaces. We don’t have anywhere to eat, we don’t have anywhere to sleep, we don’t have anywhere to stay- that’s why we steal,” (O’Haire). As a result that the juveniles of the street possess no proper aid in their life, the children are forced to live lives of desperation and risk to make it by day-to-day.
Alongside the children of the street, the majority of child soldiers come from impoverish homes that cannot supply the child with basic necessities. Having been victimized by the inadequacy of support from a family, these children often seek military regimes and militias to provide shelter, substance, and subsidy. In some instances, the family is the one to encourage the child to join the organization to lighten the strain on their finances. Life as a child soldier ensures an exposure to abhor amount of violence such as the dangers of battle and abuse.
Like adult soldiers, child soldiers take part in attacks, murders, and massacres and are trained to torture and kill on command, “...may be ordered to beat or murder peers who have broken rules or tried to run away.” (Child Soldiers). And to ease the child’s fear and increase bravery, child soldiers are often given toxic substances such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and drug mixtures. Since the children are often participating and committing the inhumane transgression, a dependence on the substances can increase, adding life-threatening risks to the child’s well being.
Out of the child soldiers that have managed to be rehabilitated, numerous amounts suffer life-long damage to their psyche upon their release or escape from the regime, “studies showed that 90% of child soldiers showed evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 65% displayed symptoms of a major depressive disorder. Many have thoughts of suicide” (For Child Soldiers, Every Day Is A Living Nightmare (EDLN)).
The accounts of violent acts at a young age can leave a permanent mental scar, therefore making it harder to adjust to life out of wartime, “...victimized by the loss of a moral compass and social bonds,” (EDLN). These children tend to feel as an outcast from their peers due to the experiences the had underwent in the military and the paucity of a normal childhood.
In In Cold Blood, Perry Smith, one of the main antagonist throughout the novel, refers to himself as an intelligent and creative individual with unrecognized talent that had been thwarted by life. Smith had always craved to be educated, to be someone of relevance. However, he was denied the opportunities because of his father, “But that bastard never gave me a chance. He wouldn 't let me go to school,” (Capote pg #).
Smith’s father found his son’s skills and handiwork to be more useful than developing the young boy’s mind. He did not see the value of education the way the boy had, therefore saw no need to support his son in his desires. The inability for Perry Smith to pursue an education created a feeling of envy that he projected onto others, “But you, Bobo, you went to school. You and Jimmy and Fern. Every damn one of you got an education.
Everybody but me. And I hate you, all of you—Dad and everybody”, (Capote pg #). Along with the malice Smith felt towards others, he also developed the feeling of resentment towards himself. In an argument with his sister, he retorts “You think I like myself? Oh, the man I could have been!” (Capote pg #), knowing that he had potential to be something else if it weren’t for his father. He also refers to himself as “dumb and ignorant”, (Capote pg #) just as his father wanted him to be. He believes that he could have turned out differently if he were offered the proper education and despises that he was bereaved of reaching his full potential. By robbing his son of a passion he desired, Smith’s father served as a basis for Perry’s enmity towards himself and others.