“Long before 8-year-old Gabriel died, his relatives, teachers and even other mothers at school saw signs he was being brutally beaten at his Southern California home, where he lived with his mother and her boyfriend. Protesters on Monday demanded justice for Gabriel – and measures to protect other children from a similar fate. They said the boy’s case exposes critical failures in a system meant to protect children.”
By Brandon Lowrey and Lolita Lopez | Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Where is your sense of duty?
It is puzzling how outraged people get over hearing stories of abuse on TV, in the newspaper or internet and yet, they see and hear abuse in their own circle and do not take action, or simply make a phone call.
Where is the outrage then?
Where is their sense of call to action?
Do they think telling another individual and not taking appropriate action themselves relieves them of the responsibility?
Does it merely relieve their conscious from sharing the burden of their knowledge?
How is it they can express outrage over abuse occurring to those they do not know and not make themselves accountable for the abuse happening within their own circle of contact?
Due to my advocacy, volunteer work, and my research, I hear more than my share of stories. I know of many instances where adults have witnessed, or were aware of sexual abuse against children. Time after time when I ask what action they have taken, I receive instead excuses to justify their non-action. Often they think it is someone else’s job, the parent is handling it, or they heard it was taken care of/reported.
Advocates like myself have a major issue in how to help the general public understand the importance of calling in and making their information of abuse or suspected abuse known to the proper officials. The way legislation is written, it takes a mountain of evidence before CPS, and the Legal authorities who work with them, will even consider going to court to help a child that is being sexually abused. That is a fact. Unless that child shows obvious physical signs of being sexually abused, it is very difficult to get the authorities to remove the child to safety. It is difficult to get the child to reveal the abuse so legally the hands of CPS are tied. When the child does tell and the parent covers it up, CPS has too great a risk of failure in court to warrant their taking action.
Make That Call
What the public does not realize is that these sexual predators of our children have many ways of sexually abusing children that do not show obvious signs. Then the day comes when the perpetrator loses control and either harms the child severely, or the action results in the child’s death. That is when we read about it in the paper and become outraged. How many times have we heard people say, they knew something or knew others that suspected something? Sharing that information after the fact is too late. Encourage those people to come forward.
Why Don’t They Do The Right Thing?
Another factor that goes awry is when the public assumes if they tell the parent/guardian, then that parent/guardian will do the right thing. Sometimes they do not, especially if they were sexually abused by the primary abuser themselves. That parent /guardian can be actively or subconsciously hiding and running from their own abuse so much they cannot allow their child’s abuse to be uncovered.
Often in these adults, you will see substance abuse, irresponsibility to the children and an inability to sustain healthy romantic or personal relationships. The family may live in a nice house with plenty of clothing and activities, but the parent is not an active parent with a consistent foundation.
Back to the point, it is often up to us to be the ones to get the information to the authorities, spread it as gossip among the community. That does not help the child or the parent/guardian.
It Takes a Village
It takes all the small bits of information that many people have to get that child safe. Make that call. Let that parent know you will be there for them if they get help. I believe in many instances if the parent realizes, through no fault of the child, that we as a society are aware of what is going on and will support them, then they will seek help. As long as we buy into the silence and the pretenses, of normalcy, that parent/guardian chooses to display then we are a part of the abuse of that child.
Again, going to the parent alone is not enough. We must each call in with our bits of known activity and founded suspicions to help the child and help the family. Otherwise, CPS will continue to quietly come in and out of the child’s life with no serious monitoring of the situation. The parent/guardian will continue to play the game with CPS that they feel bad for their child and are cooperating and then do the opposite. Meaning they will punish the child, they will remove healthy people and organizations from the child’s life and continue to put the child with the abusers. In these cases, those abusers have a hold on the parent/guardian. You know the Dad, Uncle, Cousin that makes you so uncomfortable you will not let them be around your own child, but you turn away when that parent leaves their child with the person.
That parent/guardian cannot break free from this cycle on their own, even though they may want to. As long as the rest of us buy into the silence, no one will get healthy. Those bits of information we carry around in the back of our mind eat away at us, whether we realize it or not. JDP
Make That Call
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
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