My name is Ivan. I'm seven years old. I love my Mommy and Daddy very much, but to be honest, I'm scared of them. They hit me and I don't understand what I'm doing wrong.
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Today I got up and went to school. I did all my schoolwork and I really like the teacher and my whole class... but I don't have any friends. During recess I stay in the classroom and draw. Nobody wants to be friends with me. I've tried to make friends with the other kids, but they just push me away and say:
"No! You're a freak!"
They laugh at me because I wear the same clothes every day. My ripped jeans, my light-red T-shirt and my worn-out shoes.
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After school I went to the cloakroom and took a light jacket that didn't seem to belong to anyone. Then I walked home... through a snowstorm. I shivered and it was hard for me to walk against the cold wind. Suddenly someone pushed me from behind, held me on the ground and shoved my face in the snow. I heard them saying:
"Moron! No one likes you, you idiot!"
The kids kicked at my back and my ribs and then took off. I cried, but not because I was cold. I was sad because I didn't have any friends even though I liked everybody.
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When I got home, my mom grabbed me by the hair and said:
"Where have you been? Why are you so wet? You little idiot! You're not getting any dinner tonight! Go to your room!"
Without saying a word I went to my room. Then I went to bed — cold and hungry.
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My grades got really bad and I couldn't keep up. Every time I got a bad grade my father would beat me, and after one beating I couldn't move my finger anymore. My finger stayed like that and the kids at school laughed at me because of it.
Time went on and my heart started to ache. Mommy and Daddy didn't seem to care. And do you know what I wished for one night while lying in my bed? I wished so much that my heart wouldn't ache anymore because I didn't want to make Mommy and Daddy angry anymore. I love them so much.
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The next day in school we were asked to draw a picture of our biggest wish. The other kids drew cars, rockets, dolls, but not me. Not because I don't like those things, but what I really wanted was a loving mother and a loving father. So I drew a family. A mommy, a daddy, and their son happily playing a game together. While I was drawing I cried softly because I really wanted this wish to come true. When it was my turn to show my picture to the class, they all started laughing at me. I went to the front of the class and said:
"My biggest wish is a family."
I held up my picture and they all laughed even harder. A boy named Sergey said:
"That's your biggest wish?" He started to laugh.
I didn't know what to say. I started crying and said:
"Please don't laugh at me... This is MY biggest wish! You can hit me and hate me, but don't laugh at me for this. I'd love to have a mom like yours, one who kisses you and hugs you. Every day after school I see your parents picking you up and you happily head off home with them. And nobody needs me, I know that. I have a crooked finger. I'm not that smart and I'm not that strong. But I can't help all that, really. Please stop laughing at me."
The teacher tried to hide her tears from me and I could see that some of the children understood what I was saying. But some of them kept on laughing.
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One day I got a really bad grade in English. I knew my mother would be really disappointed and I was afraid to go home. But I had no idea where else to go, so I walked home very slowly. My mother completely lost it. She grabbed me and threw me to the floor knocking my leg against a chair. Then she hit me on the head twice and I didn't even try to protect myself. When she was done, I lay on the floor and couldn't get up. My hand and my leg hurt really bad, but Mommy just left me lying there and walked away.
When she came back she said:
"Get up and get your stuff out of the way! Your father can deal with you when he gets home."
I said:
"Mommy, please don't say anything to Daddy..." But it was too late — he was already standing in the doorway.
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When my father found out about the bad grade, he grabbed me and began shaking me. Then he hit me in the face and kicked me to the floor. I don't remember anything after that. When I woke up, I was in the hospital. I could no longer move any of the fingers on one hand. I looked out the window and cried.
I could see parents with their kids playing in the park and a mother giving her son a big hug. And do you want to know why I'm crying? Because I don't know what it's like to have a mother who smiles and kisses me... and I don't know what it feels like to be hugged by my Mommy and Daddy. All they do is hit me, but I still love them. I've always tried my best in school, I really do, but Mommy and Daddy still don't like me.
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One day I spilled my drink and they beat me again. My heart began to ache again and I said to my mother:
"Mommy, Mommy, my heart..." but she didn't listen.
I ended up in the hospital again but my parents didn't come to visit me. The doctors tried to console me and told me they would visit soon, but they never came. I waited and waited, but still they didn't come. But I love them anyway, I love them so much!
Two days later, Ivan died from his injuries. In his hand they found a letter that he was never able to finish. It read:
"Dear Mommy and Daddy, I'm really sorry that I'm ugly, dumb and clumsy. I'm sorry that you couldn't love me. I'm so sorry. I didn't want to make you angry. The only thing I wanted, Mommy, was a hug, a kiss, and to hear you say 'I love you' just one time. Daddy, I just wanted to play with you, go for a walk, and sing together.
I know I'm a disgrace.
I'll never..."
And then Ivan's heart stopped beating.
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This story from Russia probably never happened, but its message is clear. It shows how much love there is in children's hearts and how much they long simply to be loved. Society needs to protect children who are being abused by their own parents — it happens every second of every day in every neighborhood and every country around the world. Children's lives should be free from violence and fear. What they really need is a kiss, a hug, and some loving words — things that unfortunately are easily forgotten amidst the stress of everyday life. Children don't need much, but they do need our love and that is a something we should never forget no matter how difficult life gets.

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