In the movie Spotlight the most important statement came right about in the middle. Mitchell Garabedian says “Mark my words: If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse a child.”
Let’s talk about an issue that goes beyond the abusing perpetrators’ actions. Let’s search for the cause. Why do men or women become predators of children? They are not born that way. Within every neighborhood of every city children are being abused. As Garabedien said, “We all know that.” Not only by priests (although that has an added level of obscenity to it). By parents, relatives, friends, teachers. It’s how we know to raise children.
We have made children the “property” of two so-called adults who, up to and even including child abuse, can raise children as they see fit. Parents can call them names, beat them, humiliate them, fail to see their talents and needs, feed them inappropriately, teach them horrendous behavior by example. They can and do say “I was raised this way, and see…. it didn’t do me any harm.” Right!
Most humans do not have the 1,001 qualities that make for good parenting (from pregnancy to adulthood!!). Even good parents cannot be 24/7 nurturers of children. I believe that children are the responsibility of the entire community. And that goes wa-ay beyond sending them to kindergarten, Brownies, Cubs and Scouts, and bringing in babysitters so parents “get a break.”
Children should be surrounded — within the home — by people who are prepared at any (all) times to provide the skills or patience or time to nurture the child. Allowing two adults to isolate themselves behind walls and be the primary providers of every physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual need of any one child is highly uncivilized.
When parents are too tired, are ill, are preoccupied, over-committed, ignorant, lacking the skill-sets for a certain age or situation — it is cruel and unusual punishment for children to be dependent on them. It isn’t enough for children to have somewhere else to turn (would they even know they have that right?); that alternative must be right there, to step in as needed, not to clean up after harm is done.
Nor am I saying this is a problem of poor families. Wealth is no guarantee of good parenting. Available privileges are not the same as good child-rearing.
We have a world of harmed parents raising generations of harmed children who will become future harmed and harmful parents.
I’m appalled by abusive priests; but even more I’m appalled that we place travel to Mars and the next iPhone as higher priorities than caring for our children.
We can’t all be perfect individuals; but around our children we should have a perfect circle of love, nurture, protection.