Monday, February 18, 2008

Suffer The Little Children

A recent trend appears to be taking shape in our nation, one that should alarm every American, because what is happening may end up forever changing the way some children see the world, growing up to be maladjusted adults.The number of incidents of child abuse nationwide has risen dramatically since 2003, with some states seeing an increase of forty seven per cent.
In Arkansas last year, child abuse hot lines received 50,000 reports of child abuse or neglect, and of that number, 30,000 were found to be legitimate cases warranting further action. Take that number and expand it nation wide, and what we have is an unspoken crisis in the United States. We're talking numbers in the hundreds of thousands, and possibly closer to one million. That doesn't even consider the cases that go unreported, nor the children who run away from home, only to be abused by other adults along their journeys.
Despite the way that child abuse is typically viewed, ie; that it's mostly poor families that experience and perpetrate the abuses taking place, studies done by the Department of Health and Human Services shows that the phenomenon is spread pretty evenly along the economic scale.
What is causing this sudden upsurge in violence against the babies in our midst? What could cause a parent to lash out so at their own child to the point that they must be removed from the home? How could anyone even conceive the thought in their mind to actually kill a child? According to studies that have been done recently by RTI International and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health, they believe they may have some answers for us.
Going back ten years, the study shows that when the country is in relative peaceful times, the incidents of child abuse slowed down. The same can also be said for the prosperity a family feels. But they draw a direct correlation between a time of war, combined with the absolute economic insecurity many families are experiencing, to the rise in incidents of child neglect and abuse.
Some of the recent cases are horrifying. Such as the case in Lake County, Florida, where a couple was just arrested on child abuse and neglect charges after neighbors finally convinced the Florida Dept. of Health and Human Services to come and look into allegations. They found three starving children, ages 8, 15, and 16, living with no running water, no electricity, filth and garbage all over the house, and none of the children had ever been to school. They weren't allowed to leave the house. The complaints of abuse had been received by the welfare dept. for Nine Years before any action was taken. They also found starving animals in the family home.
In Plattsmouth Nebraska, a man was arrested for shaking his 17 month old baby so hard, in the middle of the street, in full view of witnesses who called police, that the child was hospitalized and then put into foster care.
In Phoenix, a man has been arrested for beating his 2 month old baby son so badly that the child is in the hospital with broken ribs and skull fractures. Authorities don't know if he'll live or die.
Of note also is the rise of these types of incidents in military families this study also says. Funded in part by the Army Medical Research Lab, they discovered that when one of the parents had been deployed for tours of duty overseas, the chances that a child in the home would be abused by the remaining spouse rose almost 50 per cent. The figure was even higher for multiple deployments.
Of even more concern to many social workers nationwide is the dramatic rise in child abuse cases among middle class families, such as an Indiana case where one set of parents had two teen aged daughters pregnant, with one ordered by doctors to be on bed rest. Yet when investigated by child safety workers, the children had no bed to sleep in, had not been to school in four months, and hadn't had any food for three days. The fact that both young teen children were pregnant would be bad enough, but factor in that this was a suburban middle class neighborhood, and one can start to see the problem here.
What can anyone do about this? Is this just the way it's going to be until conditions improve in our country? Are we allowing the frustrations of the economy, the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan eat away at our very souls?Even if we are angry and frustrated and feel helpless to stop the madness our country seems to have descended into, we can not turn that fury and direct it at our future generation.
The scars from being abused as a child last forever. They do not ever go away. The child grows up learning what hate and fear mean, how to hurt people, and upon reaching adulthood they display sociopathic tendencies. Such as not caring for their fellow man. Not feeling sorry if they hurt someone. Or they take another route such as suicide.
This is our greatest responsibility. The children of our nation are the future, the ones who may come up with cures for diseases, take off to the stars, or come together as a peaceful world. But that will never happen if we keep hurting our young. As a parent, I feel the same frustrations sometimes, but when that happens, walk away, and come back later when the anger has passed. How anyone can discipline a child when they are angry is beyond my comprehension. How someone can hurt the little person who only wants to put their arms around your neck, and feel you hug them back is so surreal, but yet happens so often and to such an extent that over 3,000 kids are killed here in America alone. And how in the world anyone can look upon any child and experience sexual arousal is well beyond any knowledge that I could impart. Forget about the rest of the world, the numbers would make you cry.
Try to remember how fragile these gifts we receive are when they throw dirt on the windows or spill milk on the rug or smack the neighbors' kid. Take a deep breath and go back inside your memories to the times when they look up at you with such unconditional love that your heart just melts. Then let it melt right then and there so you can decide the discipline accordingly. Hug your kids today, and tell them how much you love them. The world will be a better place because you did. Batmanchester


Geoff Brown said...

One thing we all can do is help our teachers (and other mandated reporters) to report signs of child abuse. Teachers are America's eyes-and-ears for detecting child abuse. Unfortunately, many teachers don't know how to talk to a child whom they think might be an abuse victim. They often make mistakes that send the frightened child back into silence, or else jeopardize any prosecution. There's a new online role-playing course that lets teachers rehearse a conversation with a possible child abuse victim. There's a free trial version (120+ pages) plus a CEU-credit version. Hopefully this will help teachers detect and prevent child abuse more effectively.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that unfortunately reporting abuse to social service workers is very heart breaking here in SC. Both of my sisters and my oldest niece are drug addicts. My niece abandoned her oldest child when he was only a toddler. She now has a one year old son. She failed a drug test while pregnant and nothing was done. I reported her drug abuse to social services and they told me that they have parents on drugs all the time and they just work with them. I don't know when it became okay for parents to be on drugs but it's very heart breaking to know that children are in such situations and there isn't anything you can do about it.

Anonymous said...

Interesting posting