Pensive ParakeetIt hurts me to hear child abuse and neglect discussed in the language of business.  It fails to convey the horror of the thing that was done.

Tiny defenseless human beings in terrifying circumstances written and talked about as if highways or funding issues are the issue.

Language is critical to a clear picture of what happened.

When we don’t talk openly about a terrible thing it just does not exist (or it’s not terrible or not a problem).

Most of the time we use words that mask painful things because we are uncomfortable speaking about them.

It’s easier on us to hear euphemisms and obfuscation than the hard language of suicide, rape and murder of 3 and 6 year old children.  That’s why we have so much of it.  Until we face the epidemic of hateful things done to children by their caregivers our policymakers will never understand it or be effective in solving these problems.

Many years in child protection has taught me that children are not removed from their homes unless they have suffered from extended exposure to violence and deprivation (the World Health Organization’s definition of torture)

Maltreatment sounds like a missed meal – the impact of this word is minimal and does not convey the violence that has be done to a child.

What maltreatment most often means;

* sex abuse of child (the oldest child has been abused for 4 years nationally)

* a bruised and bleeding six year old (if you hit kids in the stomach there are no bruises and they are screened out – so no abuse).

*  the violence done to the 50+ children I worked with in child protection was not maltreatment – it was rape (2 year old, several 3 and 4 year olds & another 20 children sexually molested were under 10 – one 7 year old had been prostituted) and a 4 year old boy beaten & sexually abused and tied to a bed and left alone for days without food or water.



1 Comment

  1. My mother left when I was four, (1933),to escape my violent father. When I was seven he sent me to work for my keep on a one-cow farm under the rule of a defrocked nurse who operated an illegitimate abortion business in Northern Vermont. I lived there all seasons for five years in an unheated barn caring for cow, pigs and large garden as involuntary servitude. Treatment was unremitting humiliation and frequent beatings with a heavy stick. My summer work was to raise produce and sell it door-to-door as a front to the abortion business. I was sent to Baptist church and to school in rags and barefoot. Wet the bed every night; after two hours in school my insides relaxed enough so urine puddled under my seat. When my stonecutter father began a gravestone business and came for me, I was age 12, after 5 years of torture, a trembling, skeleton victim of terror. Unable to work, I was taken to a doctor, who said, ‘What has happened to this child!’ and threatened to have my father sent to jail. After examination he said that without intensive help, massive vitamins, kindness and rest, I would not live another six months. Those were the kindest words I’d heard in five years.

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