Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Posts tagged ‘sexual abuse’

Who Will Protect our Children?

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Man’s inhumanity surrounds us. Technology has recreated a world in which we are unable to escape the cacophony of heartless atrocities affecting our children – mutilations and killings because of the “sin” a child commits when she seeks knowledge, fathers killing their victim daughters to restore honor to themselves, parents brutally beating their children, a church condoning pedophilia, and the terrorism, death and mayhem to our children caused by the Islamic State. The stench of violent intolerance inundates us. In the midst of this reality, I thought one story of child brutality wouldn’t shock me. I thought I had heard it all. I was wrong.

It took a professor to publicize to the world the atrocity of Rotherham, Great Britain, where over ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED children were systematically brutalized over a span of 16-years.* They were raped, sexually exploited and trafficked while police and government officials did NOTHING, but blame and be contemptuous of the child victims. Given the scale of the brutality and the utter lack of governmental concern, one might wonder if these events were merely the outpouring of someone’s psychotic imagination. No such luck. Although the authorities knew, Rotherham’s children were the victim of vicious and sustained sexual abuse.

Multiple men raped girls countless times and traded them for arms and drugs. Threats of violence to family members kept the children quiet. Those who spoke found their words punishable by the very authorities sworn to protect them. Those authorities fined parents for wasting police time, unaccountably lost bags of evidence making arrests and convictions impossible, claimed 12-year old victims “consented” to the brutality, and took from the child victims the babies born of the assaults who were never seen again. Little if anything was done to help the victims or to bring the perpetrators to justice while the years and carnage mounted steadily.**

Though the events of Rotherham are unpardonable, they are becoming more commonplace. Rotherham is merely the latest reported atrocity against children, evidencing the double-edged sword hanging over their heads. In every corner of the world, our children are unable to rely on those closest to them for security and protection, because it is those closest to them who are either causing or permitting their harm, a harm that will steal their youth and scar their lives. As UNICEF recently confirmed, “most violence against children occurs at the hands of the people charged with their care or with whom they interact daily – caregivers, peers and intimate partners.” ***

We cannot shut out the cacophony or let it become mere background noise to our daily lives. We must raise our voices above the din and demand of our public officials the safety of our children. If we cannot keep our children safe, we, at least, owe them a concerted effort to preserve their innocence. If the most vulnerable among us cannot trust their parents, their church or their government to keep them safe, then whom can they trust and what becomes of their childhood?

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham, an investigation into child sexual abuse in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham in South Yorkshire, Jay, Alexis, August, 2014.

**  See, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/world/europe/reckoning-starts-in-britain-on-abuse-of-girls.html?_r=0, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11066646/Rotherham-politics-imported-from-Pakistan-fuelled-sex-abuse-cover-up-MP.html, and http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/rotherham-child-abuse-inquiry-over-1400-children-raped-trafficked-by-men-pakistani-heritage-1462666.

*** Hidden in Plain Sight- A Statistical Analysis of Violence against Children, Unicef, New York, 2014, http://files.unicef.org/publications/files/Hidden_in_plain_sight_statistical_analysis_EN_3_Sept_2014.pdf

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The Two Faces of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has been beleaguered for a very long time, most recently in Milwaukee. For decades, victims of sexual abuse have claimed that the Church,

  • continued the employment of pedophile priests;
  • shielded them through reassignment;
  • permitted them to continue their sexually abusive behavior by failing to warn their new parishioners; and
  • protected the Church’s assets through various schemes, including, as alleged in Milwaukee, bankruptcy fraud, to prevent redress to the child victims.

Assuming the Church hierarchy is composed of holy and moral men rather than criminal co-conspirators, the Church’s response to its pedophile priests is bewildering to say the least, unless the hierarchy’s compassion is limitless. If the Church could find compassion for these “men of God” although they committed some of the more heinous crimes known to man, then surely the Church could find compassion for virtually every other situation. Unfortunately, the Church could not. See, http://nbcnews.to/12DEn67, http://bit.ly/15JPnVi, http://bit.ly/10Y0ZSM, and http://huff.to/17z205m.

The Church’s compassion was conspicuously absent from its decision to place Carie Charlesworth, a second-grade teacher at San Diego’s Holy Trinity School, and her four children, students at Holy Trinity, on “indefinite leave”. In light of the Church’s history of failing to fire sexual deviants, Ms. Charlesworth must have committed unspeakable acts to merit her and her children’s expulsion. Not so.

Ms. Charlesworth is the victim of her abusive husband’s domestic violence. Although the school stated, “at no time were the students or staff threatened or did Mr. Charlesworth gain access to [the] school grounds,” when Mr. Charlesworth appeared at the school parking lot, Ms. Charlesworth, apparently unlike the pedophile priests, became a danger to the Church’s children. As a result, the school felt compelled to fire her, as explained in the school’s termination letter.

 “In the interest of the safety of the students, faculty and parents at Holy Trinity School, we simply cannot allow you to return to work here, or, unfortunately, at any other school in the Diocese.”

Seehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/13/carie-charlesworth-teacher-fired_n_3436716.html, http://bit.ly/148FeCr, http://bit.ly/16eFAFR, and http://bit.ly/123754y.

In firing Ms. Charlesworth and expelling her children, Holy Trinity School and the Catholic Church evidenced a callous disregard for the well-being of its teacher/parishioner and her family. At the least, a compassionate employer would understand that the loss of an abused and innocent woman’s livelihood because of her husband’s criminal behavior merely compounds her and her children’s victimization. They are victimized first by the abuse itself at the hands of her husband, and then by the firing at the hands of her employer.  At the least, a compassionate employer would also understand that the loss of a job could sever the lifeline needed to end the abuse. In the case of Carie Charlesworth, the Church was not such an employer.

In protecting its children, the Church has exhibited a two-faced approach – over-zealous compassion for its pedophile priests and cold-stone lack of compassion for the innocent, though abused, teacher and her children. The Church acted wrongly through both of its faces.

Cardinal of New York, then Archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan
Image courtesy of: http://bit.ly/12OIlKF

A lesson of tolerance from the Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts of the United States of America

Girl Scouts of the United States of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over a decade of statistics evidencing sexual violence against females in America tell a sobering story that, if we are truthful, comes as no surprise.

  • In 1995, of the 126,000 children who were victims of sexual abuse, 75% were girls.
  • In 1997, girls 16-19 were four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
  • In 1998, one of every six or 17.7 million American women were the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
  • In 2003, nine of every 10 rape victims were female.
  • In 2006, 232,960 women or 600 women everyday were raped or sexually assaulted. *

Females are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual violence perpetrated by heterosexual men.  Nonetheless, to their credit, women, for the most part, do not condemn the entire heterosexual male population for the epidemic of violence against them in this country. If they did, society as we know it would cease to exist. Few women would endanger themselves or their daughters by living under the same roof with a man whose heterosexual orientation was the root cause of female sexual abuse.

To condemn an entire group for the acts of a few is a hallmark of intolerance and prejudice. The Girl Scouts of the United States of America, an organization devoted to the well-being of America’s girls and young women, has refused to so broadly blame heterosexual men. Accordingly, membership in the organization as adult volunteers is open to both women and men 18 years and over. The organization uses screenings and reference checks conducted by independent, third-party agencies to protect girls and young women from potential volunteers and staff who might cause them harm. See, http://www.girlscouts.org/for_adults/volunteering/volunteer_faq.asp.   This approach seems to have worked.  We have not heard stories of sexual abuse within the Girl Scouts or of its supporters demanding the prohibition of heterosexual males from serving as volunteers.

On the other hand, by refusing to accept gay scouts or permit gay volunteers, the Boy Scouts of America has condemned the entire gay population for sexual violence against boys. In a change of policy, the organization now allows gay youth as scouts, but continues its prohibition against gay volunteers. Some view this change as a step in the right direction. Others view it with fear and trembling. In actuality, the new policy is morally inconsistent and perpetuates the BSA’s blanket condemnation of gay men. The BSA and many of its supporters use their homophobia as a shield against a simple and, perhaps, inconvenient truth. Sexual orientation is not what makes either a heterosexual or a homosexual man a predator. The BSA’s new policy is only an expression of the organization’s continuing prejudice and intolerance, both of which the BSA has no right to teach our children.

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* Http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims, and http://.now.org/issuew/violence/stats.html.  See, National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, 1998; U.S. Department of Justice, 2003 National Crime Victimization Survey, 2003; U.S. Department of Health $ Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 1995 Child Maltreatment Survey, 1995.

Dr. Carson – you know better.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA [North American Man/Boy Love Association], be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition [of marriage]”, so said Baltimore’s renowned neurosurgeon, Benjamin Carson on Fox News. Dr. Carson apologized for his “not the best choice of words,” by explaining what he meant. He said, “no group of individuals, whoever they are, whatever their belief systems, gets to change traditional definitions.” The doctor was wrong on two counts.

First, far too many people unfairly and indefensibly equate homosexuality with pedophilia or bestiality, and then use that equation as a scare tactic to limit the rights of homosexuals. Homosexuality, like heterosexuality, has nothing to do with sexual predatory behavior. Sexual predators, whether towards children or animals, can be either homosexual or heterosexual. As we are all too well aware, a sexual predator may even have taken a vow of celibacy. There is simply no statistic that evidences sexual predatory behavior as being more prevalent in homosexuals. In fact, the statistics prove otherwise. In 1995 when homophobia was far more rampant than it is today, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse, of whom, 75% were girls. http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims.

Second, although many states have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, their definition isn’t sacrosanct. Contrary to Dr. Carson’s belief, the Supreme Court is one group of individuals who can and did change the traditional definition of marriage. Not long ago a significant number of states in these United States defined marriage as the union between a man and a woman of the same race. In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court found unconstitutional all  laws barring interracial marriage. In the time it took to write its opinion, the Court changed the traditional definition of marriage forever.

The Supreme Court based its expanded definition of marriage on the legal principle that “marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” The Court used the word “man” to identify the beneficiary of the right of marriage. If the Court meant to limit the right to males only, then gays are surely within the benefitted group. Of course, the Court meant no such thing. Rather, the Court assured that the civil right to marry benefitted all mankind. The Court could have confirmed Dr. Carson’s traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, albeit without regard to race, but chose not to.

Dr. Carson is too smart and too old not to understand that our traditional definition of marriage was born of injustice. Over time, we change definitions to include the rights of the disenfranchised, whether, for example, they be women or African-Americans.  Our willingness to expand those benefitting from our civil rights is what makes America great and unique among the countries of the world.

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Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson. Photo courtesy of: http://www.biography.com/people/ben-carson-475422

Domestic Violence – Remember Kasandra

English: Colin Henderson's winning design will... (Design: Colin Henderson; Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 1, 2012, Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, shot Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and mother of his baby daughter Zoe, nine times, killing her then killing himself. Three months later, Rihanna confirmed that she and Chris Brown reconciled approximately four years after he severely beat her by, among other things, shoving her head against a car window, punching her face repeatedly, including her left eye, and biting her on her left ear. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/file/lapd-details-rihanna-beating?page=4. Both Kasandra Perkins and Rihanna are two of the approximately 1.1 million women annually who are physically assaulted, including raped and murdered, by an intimate partner. http://www.lovetakestime.com/art-domesticviolence.html. They are victims of domestic violence – “a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power and control over another.”  http://www.vaw.umn.edu/documents/inbriefs/domesticviolence/domesticviolence.html.

It should be inconceivable that home is not a safe haven and a loving partner is someone to be feared. Yet, that is life for those 1.1 million women and many more who keep the abuse hidden.  The abused may staunchly protect the abuser, but he often gives himself away. Although any male – no matter his education, financial wherewithal, or ethnicity – can become the perpetrators of the approximately 21,000 domestic crimes against women taking place weekly, http://www.lovetakestime.com/art-domesticviolence.html, his intimidation or threats, superior feelings, stranglehold domination, total financial control, isolation of his partner or verbal or emotional abuse are but a few of the telltale signs of the brutality lurking within.   http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf

Once that violence erupts, the likelihood of it exploding again and again are extremely probable. The more frequent the abuse, the more severe it becomes until the abused is in mortal danger.  http://www.lovetakestime.com/art-domesticviolence.html. Sadly, there’s no longer hope for Kasandra, but there’s still hope for Rihanna and the myriads of others like her. An abusive relationship can be transformed into a safe and secure relationship, but only after hard work by both partners. They must seek professional help. She to grow in self-esteem and assertiveness, and he to accept responsibility, be held accountable, and learn new ways to cope with anger and resentment. http://www.lovetakestime.com/art-domesticviolence.html.

At the very least, Kasandra’s death should make us, the silent bystanders, more aware of the hidden abuse among us. We must recognize a cry for help and then be ready and willing to intervene promptly. Otherwise, Kasandra and so many before her will have died in vain.

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