Struggling families in America have never had it easy. The stresses of poverty, lack of education, safety, housing and food instabilityhave broken many young families.
This is an issue of race, poverty and the stress of everyday life that has been with us a very long time. You can see it in the streets once more as I write this.
We have become used to it.
Full prisons, dangerous streets and broken schools are the part we see – the tip of the iceberg.
What we don’t see is the madness inside the home when the stresses of everyday life are manifest as drug & alcohol abuse, & out of control control behaviors of rape, beatings and other traumatic assaults on defenseless women and children. Watching your mother beaten and raped is not that different than being beaten or raped as a matter of how much trauma is suffered by the child.
We the people don’t see much child abuse because there is a public propensity to avoid painful topics that is very established in our nation. It’s as if we believe these things will disappear if we don’t speak of them – when in reality they have festered and grown exponentially for generations.
The children themselves have no voice in this. Not in their homes, the media, the legislature or the courts.
And now, during a COVID pandemic that may last for years, children are locked in homes with stressed out caregivers who do terrible things to them. There is no escape to school. There are no mandated reporters to tell. When you are seven or eight years old, you don’t even know that what is being done to you is wrong – it’s just normal.
Prior to COVID, there were 7 million children reported to child protective services over a one year period. At least in some states, prior to COVID, those children stood a chance of having their rape, beatings and neglect slowed down or stopped because a teacher or day care worker said something that brought the family to the attention of a social services agency that was able to help a struggling family or remove the child from a toxic home.
Today, a video interview by a teacher or social worker with the abusive caregiver in the same room as the child guarantees a limited ability for the child to say something. Something that could very well result in more of the same kind of trauma already breaking spirit and mind if it were spoken.
Other industrialized nations provide young families child care, health insurance, good schools and resources – but not us. We the people have made prenatal care, crisis nurseries and other child friendly services a special gift for certain people. If you are a poor young family, that is not likely you.
Once behind the eight ball, it can become impossible to keep your family fed or healthy. America is suffering through COVID and five or more generations of domestic violence, child abuse and the poverty of young mothers without resources or parenting skills to raise a healthy child with the coping skills and mental health needed to lead a productive life. The numbers are astronomical as are the social and financial burden they cost.
We are not saving money – we are destroying a society. As so wisely stated by Pliny the Greek philosopher 2000 years ago, “What we do to our children they will do to society”. It’s happening now. What could we to to change this?
KARA recommends talking about it, reading about it, volunteering where you might ease the burden of a young family and voting for those people, policies and programs that make life better for young families and at risk children.
Kids At Risk Action writes and reports on child abuse issues
& provides a passionate voice for abused and neglected children
This article submitted by CASA guardian ad litem Mike Tikkanen