So opens the popular song by reggae songstress Queen Ifrica. The song, “Daddy” caused such a maelstrom in Jamaica that it was banned from the airways of popular radio programs. Queen Ifrica, articulate lyricist and conscious Rastafarian performer broaches a subject that is still taboo in many cultures, countries and families. Child abuse, incest and pedophilia are all attacks on innocent children that have happened since biblical times. However, the effect of this trauma on the life of a child is far reaching and lifelong. Look around at the broken, unhealthy and diminished lives that people who have been abused suffer. The phenomenon that is child abuse affects the famous as well as the unknown, but the effects are uniform. Inability to cultivate healthy relationships is symptomatic of an abused child. They say that those who have been abused in turn become abusers, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle – one can only hope that redemption comes with forgiveness (not necessarily forgetfulness) and acceptance that the act of abuse is no way the fault of the child and guilt is not something that should be claimed by a victim of abuse – but as is often the case, the victims are the ones who vilify themselves, flagellate themselves as somehow being responsible for the unspeakable horrors they suffer.
We must ask ourselves how parents, designated care-givers and protectors of their progeny can turn a blind eye or convince themselves that what is plain as day is not happening. Conscience may prick a neighbor, but somehow their senses are lulled as they tell themselves it’s not their problem, meanwhile somewhere a child cries themselves to sleep and contemplates suicide.
According to data from the police department of Baltimore County in Maryland
- 84 percent of prison inmates were abused as children.
- One in three girls and one in five boys are sexually abused by an adult at some time during childhood. (Most sexual abusers are someone in the family or someone the child knows, not the proverbial stranger with a lollipop.)
- Families with four or more children have higher rates of abuse and neglect, especially if their living conditions are crowded or they live in isolated areas.
- More than 80 percent of abusers are a parent or someone close to a child. Child abuse is far more likely to ocur in the child's home than in a day care center.
- ne n thirteen kids withparent on drugs is physically abused regularly. (Drug and alcohol abuse in the family makes child abuse about twice as likely.)
- One out of ten babies born today are born to mothers who are abusing drugs. Drinking and smoking heavily during pregnancy also endangers the health of unborn children.
With these alarming facts, the protection of our children is something that society as a whole needs to be invested in. High profile campaigns for breast cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease abound, but when it comes to the insidious harm afflicted on innocent children, the profile of the ills of abuse seems woefully lacking. Apart from the cases involving the Catholic church, there are sporadic reports of children being abducted and killed, Elizabeth Smart was one child abducted, but restored to her family after being held captive and brutally abused for nine months.
With all the stories that abound of pedophiles targeting children, we learn the pattern that these sick individuals always target and insinuate themselves in situations and locations where they have unbridled access to their hopeless and hapless victims. The latest alarming trend is the abduction and introduction of child sex slaves who are coerced into prostitutes to feed the depraved cravings of men and women around the world. There are horrific stories of children who were adopted and subjected to a life of sexual servitude.
Parents and caregivers who should be protecting and nurturing the minors in their care seem to be dropping the ball at an alarming rate. Access to the internet has facilitated the lightening speed transmittal of child pornography and led to a rise in sexual predators trawling the internet.
Civilized society is judged by its attitude towards its youth and its elders. In terms of child abuse, our society needs to do much much more to protect its future.
Sheron Hamilton-Pearson © February 2011