I have been working hard to answer a question posed to me. Someone asked, “Why should I care about child abuse and neglect? There are a lot of problems out there. Why should I care?” It has taken me some time to get my arms around that question. The answer is that child abuse and neglect is the largest humanitarian crisis in America. A humanitarian crisis exists when there is a huge need to relieve suffering and save lives, and that is exactly what it is.
Millions of people are injecting poison into the brains of young children every year. Poison is something that causes injury, illness or death. When you physically, emotionally, or sexually abuse a child, you are poisoning them by altering their healthy psychological development for which they must deal with the rest of their lives—and five children die every day because of abuse and neglect. And yet, there is no public outcry.
If a food substance were poisoning over a million children a year, the Centers for Disease Control would put out alerts. There would be “CNN Breaking News” every hour and a rush to prevent it from further happening. But because it is child abuse and neglect, the only thing you hear on the news are the titillating and often sensational news stories, particularly when they involve sex or violence.
When I testified before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in Annapolis in support of passing Jessica’s Law, I said, “You expect battered women and defenseless children to stand up to perpetrators. Why don’t you stand up to them? You are the ones with the power? Why don’t you stand up to them?” By the way, Jessica’s Law passed. The legislation created a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole for anyone convicted of a first or second degree sexual offense against a child under the age of 13.
You could fill up every professional football stadium in the United States on January 1st with all the children that Child Protective Services substantiated had been abused, empty the stadiums on December 31st, and then start all over again the next year. And those would be the children who had been reported to the authorities. They would be the tip of the iceberg. And yet there is no public outcry to this madness.