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Systematic Silences

Posted on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 10:54 AM

It’s not OK that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ state report omitted eight child abuse deaths. Choosing a code of silence makes them “double victims,” says Sen. Barbara Mikulski (congressional child abuse prevention hearing, Dec. 13, 2011). Children are victimized once at the time of abuse and again when the abuse is overlooked, ignored or covered up. It’s especially egregious when we collude in silence to preserve our reputations and protect our institutions. But systemic silence is nothing new. It happened in the Holocaust, Abu Ghraib, the Catholic crisis and most recently in the Penn State scandal. These tragedies offer a wake-up call or a lost opportunity. We can repeat past sins or confess our need for collective wisdom to make better choices. Choices show our true colors. If we truly care for children, when we see something, we must do something. Joe Paterno’s parting words were “I wish I’d done more.” Let’s learn from that. For “not even a lifetime of service to others can make up for leaving a single child alone, abandoned to evil, weeping in the dark” (Ross Douthat, The New York Times). Covering up cases of child deaths does that. It’s just not OK — because child abuse is not a private affair. It’s a public concern.


©Beverly Blaisdell Weinhold

Counseling Alliance of Louisville

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