There are many forms of child abuse. A myriad of reasons why, but no excuse. Not a single excuse for causing the abuse or for allowing it to continue.
As you may know, my first novel, The Night Train, deals heavily with child abuse. Young Jayrod Nash is terribly abused by his father, neglected by his mother, bullied at school, and sometimes chided by his fourth grade teacher. Now before you click away, this post is not a commercial for my book. I mention it because I've received so many comments from people telling me the book has either helped someone they know, or would help if only they knew to read it. One small disclaimer: I didn't write The Night Train to lecture on the ills of child abuse. In fact, the book doesn't lecture at all. Jayrod Nash is a boy on an adventure, and he just happens to be abused. The events in the book occur as a result of his trying to escape the life he is becoming to realize isn't normal. You see, it all began when I started asking myself if abused children -- kids who know no other way of life -- actually understand how wrong their situation is. So, the book takes the reader into Jayrod's days and nights through his eyes, interpreting events and situations as he sees them.
One of the highlights of my writing career has been going to schools and speaking to kids. Inevitably, in every single instance there's been at least one child who fit the profile. After one such visit I received a letter from a seventh grader telling me she saw herself in Jayrod. It was heartbreaking, and I admit I struggled with what to do with that information. Ultimately, I contacted the teacher, who followed procedure and shared the information with the principal. Privacy laws prevent me from knowing what happened after that, but that little girl thanked me for writing the book. If I've accomplished nothing else with my writing, I think I helped that little girl to at least know she is not alone.
That's important -- knowing you're not alone.
Another time, a young man approached me at an event and introduced himself. He very nervously shook my hand and told me (his voice cracking) that he felt like Jayrod. Words can't describe the mix of emotions I felt. Thinking I had helped ... helpless to do more.
You are not alone.
Enough with the commercial. Just to prove that my feelings on abused children didn't manifest themselves just to sell a book, I would like to share with you a poem I wrote when I was a teen.
THE CRIME OF SILENCE
by Carl Purdon
Through cries and screams and sobbing eyes
our children beg to be believed.
How long until we realize?
This pain they feel must be relieved.
So many lost along the way.
Graves and jails lock them in.
The guilty ones still free to prey,
on innocence with their sins.
The teacher sees the child alone,
shy and scared while others play.
Suspecting things not well at home,
she wants to help but looks away.
The preacher gives his message clear
"Spare the rod and spoil the child".
He fails to say "Let's hold them dear,
with patient heart and tempers mild."
The neighbor hears the loud abuse
and sees the marks on her tiny face.
He has no proof so there's no use
butting in is not his place.
The doctor mends the broken arm,
while bruises tell the nasty truth.
He knows inside what caused this harm,
but writes it off as part of youth.
The men we send to make our laws
ignore this truth - so hard to face.
And we with votes must see their flaws,
send someone else to take their place.
We seek a place to lay the blame,
while our children take another blow.
When another dies - the cause the same,
we swear to God we didn't know.
Child abuse is not private business. It's not the type of thing we should glance away from and pretend we don't see the signs. I'm no expert on the subject. I'm not a doctor, or a psychologist. The only degree I have is in electronics, but I do have some common sense. I suspect you do as well.
To learn more about child abuse and what you can to to help, I strongly urge you to visit child welfare.gov today.