By Tony Casson
“Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”
1 Timothy 2:1b NLT
“We believe no evil till the evil’s done.”
Jean de La Fontaine
Tonight in tens of thousands of homes across this country, children will go to bed afraid of the visit that will come when all is quiet. They will go to bed dreading the unholy violation of their innocence that will take place when they should be able to sleep peacefully, dreaming the dreams of children. But instead of dreaming, these children will be trembling quietly under the covers.
Do they lie there fearful that a stranger will enter this place that should be safe and do them harm? The heart-breaking truth is that the monster that most children fear is a person who is very well known to them.
The harsh reality should be very apparent to all of us by now as the numbers have been published often: 93-97% of all sexual abuse inflicted upon children in America is the direct result of a violation of trust by a family member, a relative or someone known to the family.
Instead of feeling safe knowing that a family member is nearby, many children lie in the dark, suffering unimaginable mental anguish wondering when the next assault will come.
I recently wrote about the book, “The Road of Lost Innocence” by Somaly Mam. Even in the extreme cases such as those in Cambodia that Somaly Mam describes with such brutally vivid honesty, the abuse that is inflicted upon children exists; is promoted; and occurs in the first place because of a violation of trust by parents, other relatives or people in positions of power and authority who should be able to be relied upon for protection. Instead, they are all either complicit or complacent.
Sadly, in the United States of America, our record is not much better:
• This is not a nation that has declared war against the sexual abuse of children; rather this is a nation that has declared war on misguided individuals who view the recorded images of that abuse, rather than using the incredible array of technology available to prevent those images from reaching our homes in the first place.
• This is not a nation that has set itself apart as a world leader in the protection of those least able to protect themselves; rather this is a nation that has allowed its politicians to regard misguided middle aged men and socially inept younger introverts in the same light as sexually violent predators that do, sadly, exist in our world. But they exist in far fewer numbers than America’s parents are led to believe. This creates an enormous workload for those charged with keeping watch over the most dangerous and encourages complacency and invites tragedy.
• This is not a nation that can be proud of the importance it places upon its future – the future being its children; instead, this is a nation which has allowed – indeed rewarded – our politicians who have actually pushed the safety and protection of children aside in favor of promoting sanctimoniously named legislation that does little more than create an American tragedy of a different kind.
In a recent article, “The Child Protection Act That Doesn’t,” I referred to a bill sponsored by Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas as a “misguided, misinformed and useless piece of pompous political puffery” and went on to classify it as “…political grandstanding at its lowest, which actually exploits the very children it claims to protect for purely political gain.”
Congressman Smith is only the most recent in a long line of politicians attaching their names to legislation promising to solve a problem when it is glaringly apparent by the very nature of their proposed solutions that they do not even know what the real problem is.
It is a regrettable fact of political life that our elected officials will seize upon any incident that can be used to cast themselves in a favorable light with the voting public, and issues concerning children are particular favorites of theirs.
Nothing grabs the public’s attention and inflames emotions to as intense a degree as a tragedy that has befallen a child at the hands of a stranger. Even though these extreme incidents are, in actuality, quite rare, the media attention they garner causes any decent person to become upset and angry and to look to elected officials for a solution.
Unfortunately, for that child and the child’s family, there is no solution. The tragedy is in this truth: No law ever passed has protected those children who have died horrific deaths at the hands of predatory strangers. Yet each new heartbreaking incident – even as rare as they may be – brings about a new round of laws and sex offender restrictions that do little more than provide a righteous platform upon which a politician can stand and say, “I am protecting America’s children.” Tell that to the parents and family of the child they just buried.
There will never be a law passed that can prevent pure evil from seeking victims to prey upon. Vigilance and common sense on the part of the parents is the best defense there is. Sadly, vigilant people will look away and another tragedy will occur, but these incidents, and the monsters who are responsible for them, should not be viewed as the primary danger to our children.
Child pornography is often singled out as the biggest crime against children. With the startling number of prosecutions for its possession and the flooding of our prisons with those found guilty of it, there is little wonder that it is perceived as such. However, the images – as sad and senseless as they are – are simply the record of the actual crime against whatever child may be pictured. This brings us back to the problem, which is – the sexual abuse of children, most of which takes place in the home.
If this sounds redundant, I apologize. Or maybe I don’t because people don’t seem to see that it is easier to point fingers at individuals making horribly immature and irresponsible decisions to look at pictures that should not be allowed to enter our homes in the first place than it is to try to tackle the real problem which lies in the very acts themselves that are recorded in the pictures.
This child pornography pandemic is destroying thousands of families in this country needlessly. Child pornography should not be allowed to proliferate to the degree that it does. The responsibility for this falls squarely on the shoulders of the providers of Internet service and the lawmakers who would rather pass laws to incarcerate tens of thousands – potentially millions – of Americans for having the moral indecency to look at the pictures rather than pass laws requiring those providers to lock the door on child pornography.
When we stop hauling our fathers, sons, friends and neighbors off to prison for looking at pictures that should be blocked; when we stop wasting resources to seek, arrest, prosecute, imprison and monitor criminals that are created because of misplaced priorities; when the American public stops listening to the misdirection, the excuses and the outright lies and tells those who are paid to serve the public to actually sit down, roll up their sleeves and work toward productive solutions, then perhaps the country can begin to heal from this disease that festers and threatens to destroy us from within.
The course of action currently being taken by those in charge is as irresponsible as the behavior of those caught up in its web.
Somaly Mam is making a difference in the face of tremendous odds. She is saving lives while we, in this country, content ourselves with destroying more of them. She faces the tragedy that is in the truth every day while lawmakers in this country cannot even say they know what the truth is.
Politicians, prosecutors and judges all run scared, flailing at whatever presents the easiest target. Unfortunately, the easiest targets are those least responsible for the fear those thousands of children I spoke of take to bed with them each night.
Is there no one out there with the courage of Somaly Mam? Is there no one out there courageous enough to do the right thing, rather than that which is easiest?
Based on the actions of our lawmakers, I would guess not. And there certainly is tragedy in that truth.