America must stop tolerating the crimes of child abuse and neglect. There is more outrage in neighborhoods when someone slashes their tires at night than when they suspect child abuse in their community. What is wrong with this picture? Americans need to take their blinders off and stop this madness. Here are suggestions that can be implemented immediately:1
- All reported cases of child abuse should be investigated by professionally trained fact-finders. Currently, child abuse “investigators” are many times performed by people who lack the appropriate training. Similarly, attorneys representing child protective agencies must be trained in basic prosecutor’s skills, and lawyers who represent the children must be specially trained.
- The current system of using the same social workers to simultaneously protect the child and rehabilitate the parent must be replaced by separate teams. If a lawyer tried to represent both abuser and the abused, the cries of “conflict of interest” would echo throughout the courthouse. Yet when a social worker routinely does the same thing, we call it “family therapy.”
- A child in danger must be protected. Once his/her safety is assured, and only then, we can begin the process of working with the abuser. This could mean removal of the offender from the home. Currently, though, many offenders are left in the home on the ground that they are the bread-winner, while the victim is placed in another setting. Thus, reinforcing the abuser’s mantra to the victim that they are to blame for the family’s problems.
We must impose standards for parenting. People are required to get a license to drive a car or own a gun so that they don’t inadvertently hurt someone due to ignorance or negligence. And yet, anyone old enough to have sex can have children with no expectations dictated or required whatsoever. How ridiculous is that?
Until Americans place a higher value on raising healthy children than properly operating a car or a gun, our country will continue to pay the price for the destruction of children’s lives.
When are we going to stop this madness imposed on millions of children and say “enough is enough”?
1“Are You Going to Hurt Me Too?” Andrew Vachss, Parade Magazine, October 13, 1985