There's much debate at the moment about the right to silence.
There always is when something absolutely tragic happens and no one wants to talk about it.
Of course I'm referring to the 4-year-old boy who was beaten so badly that according to Detective Inspector Mike Foster even if he does recover he will likely to be severely disabled.
Foster also said the injuries are some of the most severe he has seen involving a child in 30 years of policing.
Just reading it makes you want to weep. It also means that if he does recover he might not be able to tell anyone who beat him to within an inch of his life.
He has been silenced.
• Lizzie Marvelly: Middle NZ - Just what does it mean?
• Premium - Middle NZ: What goes around comes around
• Middle NZ: The joys of holidays
• Premium - Middle NZ: Health board popular choice
According to Wikipedia: "The right to silence is a legal principle which guarantees any individual the right to refuse to answer questions from law enforcement officers or court officials. ... This can be the right to avoid self-incrimination or the right to remain silent when questioned."
Surely when it comes to our children this law is an ass.
The Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft has also called for the right to silence to be abolished. He said "the fact you might incriminate yourself isn't a reason for not talking". So true.
Same thing happened with the Kahui twins. They had no one to speak for them and after their deaths the family closed ranks and although there was a trial no one was ever held accountable for their deaths. No justice for those babies. Tragic.
Perhaps the law could be adjusted so that anyone who cares for children under the age of 10 does not have the right to silence in the event that the child is a victim of abuse.
Something has to change because the law as it stands is not looking after our children.
While we are on the subject of silence I think we all need to have a look at ourselves.
I don't believe for a minute that there weren't signs that this wee boy was being abused.
If only someone had spoken up for him before this happened, if only someone had taken his hand and asked him if he was okay, if only someone had taken the time to sit with him and talk about what was happening in his life, maybe this wouldn't have happened.
As Hawke's Bay Today has reported Oranga Tamariki had previously been involved with the family. To what extent we don't know and we don't really need to know.
What we do need to know is who is responsible for beating this defenceless child in what has been described as a prolonged attack — so whoever did it can't use anger as an excuse. This wasn't someone lashing out, this was deliberate and prolonged and I just can't imagine what that child went through.
Understandably there's a lot of anger in the community. Police have called for calm and rightly so. We need to trust them to do their job.
They know what questions to ask, they know who to question.
There have also been some pretty nasty comments aimed at the family on social media. Again I understand the frustration but abusing people is not the answer.
The saddest thing about this is that we know it's going to happen again. Somewhere in New Zealand right now there are children being abused.
They don't have a voice, they are silent — too frightened to speak up.
Someone knows what happened in that house — you have a voice — use it.
Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.