Why Child Abuse Is On the Rise

Author: Haven Bradford Gow

WHY CHILD ABUSE IS ON THE RISE By Haven Bradford Gow, copyright 1991

U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services Dr. Louis Sullivan observes that, "Beyond the horrors an abused child experiences at the time, the harm from child abuse and neglect has enormous long-term consequences. The evidence is clear that maltreatment can have deleterious effects on children's mental health and development, both short- and long-term. Preliminary findings of on-going research indicates abused children are more likely to suffer drops in IQ, learning disabilities, depression and drug problems."

Indeed, studies reveal that the pernicious consequences of child abuse-mental, physical and social-are evident even 20 years after the abuse; in fact, suicide, violence, delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse and other kinds of criminality often are connected with child abuse.

In their work, We Weep for Ourselves & Our Children (San Francisco: Harper & Row), Joanne Feldmeth and Midge Finley point out that new research documents that, "people who were sexually abused as children suffer a long- term loss of self-esteem. Obviously, people vary in their reactions, but the blow to the identity is consistent and serious. This childhood trauma attacks the sense of the self at a critical point-before it has finished the important work of growing up."

Judge Charles Schudson, a juvenile court judge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says, "Virtually all judges understand that in a substantial and increasing number of cases of violent crime, today's felon was yesterday's abused child. We read the psychological evaluations and pre-sentence reports and learn, over and over again, that our failure to prevent violence against children often leaves them so emotionally damaged that their violent, criminal careers 'logically' follow."

Statistics also demonstrate a nexus between the pro-abortion mentality and the increase in child abuse. Supporters of the U.S. Supreme Court's January, 1973, Roe v. Wade ruling said legalized abortion on demand would reduce the incidence of child abuse by reducing the number of unwanted babies, but statistics clearly demonstrate that the reverse is true. In 1978, there were 606,600 reported cases of child abuse, but by 1984, the figure had almost doubled to 1,131,300 cases. Moreover, the ratio of child abuse cases per 1,000 population increased from 2.7 in 1978 to 4.8 in 1984.

As University of Rhode Island philosophy professor Dr. Stephen Schwarz points out in his book, The Moral Question of Abortion (Chicago: Loyola University Press), "Abortion is not a solution for child abuse. Recall what has been continually emphasized, the horror of the methods of abortion, such as saline burning of the skin for one to two hours or cutting the child to pieces, and the pain these methods cause to the child.... It is simply false to assume that it is the unwanted child who will be abused while the wanted child will not. That is, abortion for this purpose, even if it were justified, would not be effective."

Indeed, as Canadian physician Dr. Edward Lenoski points out, "Many studies have demonstrated that the victim of child abuse is not the 'unwanted child.'" In fact, more often than not, it is the wanted child.

In his study of child abuse, Dr. Lenoski discovered that, "Ninety one percent of the parents admitted they wanted the child they had abused. The mothers had also donned maternity clothing two months earlier than most expectant mothers." Moreover, "A higher percentage of the abused children were named after one of the parents," suggesting that they indeed were wanted.

Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney says the abused child is a victim of the results of abortion because: 1. Abortion decreases an individual's instinctual restraint against the occasional rage felt toward those dependent on his or her care; 2. Permissive abortion diminishes the social taboo against aggressing the defenseless; 3. Abortion increases the hostility between generations; 4. Abortion has devalued children, thus diminishing the value of caring for children.

Clearly, when unborn babies are aborted merely for convenience sake, when newly-born babies are permitted to die simply because they are handicapped, and when the elderly are encouraged to die because they are unwanted and cannot care for themselves, it becomes easy for parents, guardians and caretakers to view and treat children as toys to be used and abused, and discarded after use.

Mr. Gow is Contributing Editor for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

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