It’s Not Always Christmas For children. And child abuse is nothing that this Santa can endure.
In the past few weeks there has been an additional focus on child abuse because of the death of Adrian Peterson’s 2 year old son. What the media isn’t talking about is the fact that the crime takes place every day. Year in, year out, children are murdered in this country.
I’m not talking about any veiled concept – this is not about abortion. It’s about the alarming fact that thousands of children are murdered each year in abuse and neglect situations. Some small percentage of these deaths are attributable to mental illness on the part of the parent. Some parents, not many in terms of percentage, are mentally unable to process reality in the way most of us can. They do not understand the need for the child to be properly fed and nurtured. They do not grasp the concept that their child has different needs than the adult in the home – especially in terms of drug and alcohol consumption. And others, a very small number, do not understand the concept of human life. The child is of no more concern than a hamster or a puppy.
All of the instances noted above are cognitive problems that are recognized mental illness in adults. The thought process is biologically altered in some important way that prevents the person from fully grasping what it means to be a child – or to care for one.
There is another group of adults, a much larger group that has a different problem with children: they know better and don’t care. They blame children for their own failings and problems. They view children as an annoyance and a burden. They view children as fully responsible for their own actions at any age – and discipline them as though they were opponents in a bar fight. This group is the one that truly abuses children.
I’ll be writing more about Dragnet in the next few weeks. I’m in the midst of watching all the episodes on Netflix. One of them hit home harder than most. It was an episode about child abuse. Whether or not you like Jack Webb, or the acting on his shows, the lead in this episode was a young mother who had an abused child. She had chosen her husband over the child. In many ways the story is right on the money based on my personal experiences, limited though they may be. You’ll find the episode here for you to watch on Hulu.com once I’m done with my point.
The reality is that children under their teen years will almost never self-report the crime. They don’t understand what’s happening, they are ashamed of what’s being done to them, or they are so afraid of the punishment if the confide in an adult that they keep their silence. You, the neighbor, Santa on the chair at the mall, teacher, or clerk at the grocery store are the one who must act. You are that child’s guardian when no other will stand in their defense.
I’m not encouraging you to jump in the midst of a parent and a child in public. That’ll likely get you in trouble with the law yourself. What I’m asking is that if you see something wrong that you contact the authorities. Take a video on your cell phone, snap a picture of the people, take down the license plate, or make the call right then and there while they are in front of you. If the child is in imminent danger of harm you must act. Some, a small number, will need to intercede directly. I know that scares you but if someone is hitting a toddler in the face or jerking on their arm so hard as to dislocate, don’t you have an obligation to act? Don’t you, as a child of God, have an obligation to take care of the least among us?
Here’s the episode. Think about what I’ve talked about today. The life you save will make it all worth while.
The episode is called “The Little Victim.”