Enough is enough! Let’s really deal with the politics of abuse in our country!

Plainly . . . and tragically . . . abuse is legal! I have worked with enough people who have either experienced or been close to abuse, where they should have been but were not protected!

Women were not protected. Elderly were not protected. Children were not protected. And at times men were not protected. When they needed to be and should have been!

The police “could” not protect them because . . .
The court “could” not protect them because . . .
The department that serves children and families “could” not protect them because . . .
Always an excuse given as a reason, a legal reason.

Enough is enough!

Last week I was required by law to make a report to the department that is supposed to protect children. I made the call and the report as mandated. Once made, I discovered something that brought pain and outrage! I discovered that most of the child abuse I had just reported was not something they would investigate, because the law in that particular state did not make it illegal for a parent to discipline his/her children with physical means or with an instrument. That means, an open hand can hit, a brush, spoon, or belt can hit . . . as long as somebody determines it’s not excessive force.

Incomprehensible! What century do we live in? What country do we live in? What a bizarre guise we offer that we are a civilized society! What absurd masks we wear that we are a loving people! What hypocrisy to bemoan the bullying that goes on among our children, when we adults are bullies in the home behind closed doors!

I know this may not all apply to every one of us. However . . . every one of us needs to look deep within ourselves to discover which parts of this does apply to us. And to heal those parts to the root! Without that exploration, we will continue to say good things about ourselves, while we normalize abuse and deny it.

I investigated in another state to see if the same was true. The department would not tell me, but rather said it “could not give any guidelines or information about this,” and referred me instead to its website, “where,” the person said, “it covers what’s reportable and what’s not.”

And then I found an article from a newspaper that said outright, “In Connecticut, in and of itself, striking your child as a form of discipline is not illegal. According to state statute, a parent or guardian may “use reasonable physical force … to the extent that he reasonably believes such to be necessary to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of such minor.” (New Haven Register Friday, June 04, 2010, “New Haven man faces assault charges for ‘discipline’ of teen with belt.”)

It goes on to describe in the article what was said by a retired police officer who trains recruits at the police academy in domestic violence and child abuse: “If you’re driving 66 mph in a 65 mph zone, it’s clear-cut that you are breaking the law, he said.” And then it quoted him as saying, “This has a lot of gray areas.”

What is gray about physically abusing a child? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

The journalist who wrote the article acknowledged, “Clearly, over the decades, society as a whole has shifted away from corporal punishment, but it still remains a common disciplinary tool in many households. For years, many child-rearing experts have said spanking is ineffective and may promote aggression in children.”

It also promotes great fear and the re-enactment of the very traumatic experiences the children had at home with others in the future . . . with their spouses, with their children, with the elderly to whom they are close. The original abuse goes on and on and on . . . from one generation to another, from one person to another. And it spreads like a wild fire from the individual level of society, to the communal . . . from families to communities, to states, to countries, and all over our world.

The laws of our country are still supporting abuse. The politics of our country are still supporting abuse. No matter how much we try to deny it, it is undeniable! Among others, it is the parents who abuse their children who vote for the Mayor or Town Select Person, the State Senator, the Governor, the US Senator, and the President. This is screaming out to be healed in our time. The healing starts at home . . . within each of us. Each one of us needs to look at the ways in which we abuse children, others, ourselves, our power. Whatever we change in the outer world will not be sustained unless we take this step . . . each one of us!

© Judith Barr, 2011


  1. Your energy and conviction are admirable – but the ways that people abuse each other are more subtle than they are obvious. As your outrage suggests we seem unable to recognize even obvious abuse – there is more masked and concealed hurtful behavior – hidden behind walls of self-defense – hidden in confusion and fear. This hardly seems like something anyone can do anything about. This process of self-destruction is writ large and must have its own natural end point. Perhaps it brings transformation because transformation is what is happening. There is no peace to be found in trying to right the state of humanity or of any other human being. It seems that knowing oneself and knowing another and loving all that you find there is the best that anyone may do.

  2. I agree with you 100%!
    BTW…Connecticut is the “Wild West” in terms of regulating abuse situations ….abuse is well tolerated in this State… including that by therapists. In Connecticut a Therapist can commit insurance fraud (financial, mental and emotional abuse of a client) and the Licensing Agency (the CT DPH) will not investigate or consider it to be a violation of the Standard of Care, claiming it has nothing to do with one’s treatment by the therapist. uhhh….how can a client trust a therapist who steals from them?
    The Ct DPH also considers everything else (except sex…and you better have evidence to prove that!) that falls under “ethical” guidelines to be a matter of perception.

  3. There are so many layers of healing it is staggering. To address the abuse of children we also have to examine the nuclear family. In my opinion, it is not the healthiest or sanest way to raise children. Children need lots of loving arms! Parents need support on an hourly basis, especially those at home for hours and hours with small children. Parents need healthy modeling too – the aunt or the granny around who can show healthy parenting (if that’s even possible at this point?). Leaving children with people who don’t love them (like day care or school) is not ideal either. To me, we must question and evaluate and be prepared to change EVERY system in our culture including the nuclear family, which is driven in part by economy….each family needs two cars, one house, one refrigerator, etc. etc. How can we expect a system (legal) that arose out of a broken system (modern culture) to protect our children?

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