Posts Tagged ‘abusive parents’

Many of us watched in horror as George Floyd’s life was drained from his body by a police officer as he cried, “I can’t breathe.” Police officers are supposed to protect us, but some have become our enemy out to kill us. Many were outraged at the death of George Floyd and others and have taken to the streets across the globe in protest chanting, “I can’t breathe!” and “Say their name!” Some of the protests have become violent, destroying businesses and other buildings.

I understand the outrage. I understand the protests. I even understand the violence. (Although I do not condone it)

What I don’t understand is how people can remain silent when so many young children are being abused and neglected in their own homes by the very ones who were supposed to protect them. No outrage; no marches; no protests; no media coverage. 

I would even suspect that some of the BLM protesters are guilty of abusing their own children at home. 

Maybe we should begin chanting the names of children who have died from abuse: 

2-year-old Jakobe Chaffin 

2-year-old Ja’hir Gibbons 

8-year old Rica Rountree 

11-year old Heaven Watkins 

3-year old Janiyah Armanie Brooks 

All of them died from blunt force trauma by their caretaker or parent(s)

https://www.localmemphis.com/article/news/investigations/i-team/father-charged-with-murder-child-abuse-neglect-in-death-of-2-year-old-son/522-b34b548f-65e2-4eb3-9f1c-6d20af619eab

https://wgntv.com/news/still-no-charges-in-death-of-2-year-old-boy/ 

https://week.com/2019/05/10/murdered-8-year-old-normal-girl-was-afraid-to-go-home-watchdog-says/  

https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/this-could-have-prevented-the-tragic-death-of-heaven-watkins-virginia-girls-child-abuse-case-prompts-nationwide-legislation/65-c8d210da-3c0c-4966-a88f-2bc921a73c49 

https://www.walb.com/2019/05/19/ga-toddler-dies-after-heinous-child-abuse/

And these are only a few cases that were investigated!

Child fatalities due to abuse or neglect remain a serious problem in the United States. Fatalities due to child maltreatment and neglect disproportionately affect young children under 8 years old and most often are caused by one or both of the child’s parents.There was an estimated 4,136,000 referrals to CPS for investigation in 2017. Out of those referrals an estimated 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect! 

A new report by the Office of the Inspector General of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services counts 123 children who died within a year of family contact with DCFS. In some cases a state worker, a neighbor or a professional required by law to report suspected child abuse didn’t adequately respond and vulnerable children remained in mortal danger. 

The cruel realization that parents and caretakers can kill their own children is difficult to imagine and accept. And yet, the reality is, is that five children die from abuse or neglect every day at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect them!

And children of color tend to be especially high risk to die from maltreatment. African American and Hispanic children who die from abuse continues to be higher than any other ethnicity. In fact, a new report confirmed that “the risk for maltreatment is particularly high for black children, who had cumulative risk of confirmed maltreatment in excess of 25 percent for many years, and never less-than 20 percent,” the report states. 

Official 2011 data from child protective service agencies puts the overall child abuse figure at 1 in 100 children. But the new research places the figure at 1 in 8, with most of it taking place in the child’s early years. The new study, which appears online in JAMA Pediatrics, uses the same protective services data of the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, NCANDS, but measures it cumulatively, including all children under 18 who have been victimized, up to and including the given year. 

Researchers found that by 4 years old, Black children had a 1 in 10 chance of being maltreated. By 10 years old, the risk was 4 in 25. Put another way, that’s at least four students in every fifth-grade class. By 15 years old, Black youth had a 1 in 5 chance of having a CPS file. (https://www.firststar.org/black-children-have-highest-abuse-rates/)

Physical abuse fatalities most commonly involved blunt force trauma or intentional trauma inflicted by a father, a mother or both. Another great percentage of child maltreatment fatalities involved a child with special needs. (ADD/ADHD, Autism, Developmental disability, Downs Syndrome, Drug or alcohol in utero)

The national estimate is influenced by which States report data as well as by the U.S. Census Bureau’s child population estimates. Many researchers and practitioners believe that child fatalities due to abuse and neglect are underreported. Some of the data could be faulty because: 

  • The length of time (up to a year in some cases) it may take to establish abuse or neglect as the cause of death. 
  • Inaccurate determination of the manner and cause of death. 
  • Miscoding of death certificates labeled as accidents, sudden infant death syndrome, or undetermined that would have been attributed to abuse or neglect if more comprehensive investigations had been conducted. 
  • The ease with which the circumstances surrounding many child maltreatment deaths can be concealed or rendered unclear. 
  • Lack of coordination or cooperation among different agencies and jurisdictions. 

A study of child fatalities in three States found that combining at least two

data sources resulted in the identification of more than 90 percent of child fatalities ascertained as being due to child maltreatment.

And yet, those in charge of such data within CPS and DHHS have said:

“We appreciate the partnership and work state and tribal child welfare programs do every day to prevent and reduce child abuse and neglect cases in their area. The report shows us that we are making strides in reducing victimization and deaths due to maltreatment, however, the numbers of victims and deaths are still higher than they were five years ago, which is significantly concerning.” — Lynn Johnson, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families

“We are experiencing increases in the number of children referred to CPS at the same time that there is a decrease in the number of children determined to be victims of abuse and neglect.” — Jerry Milner, Acting Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families and Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau

Almost three-quarters (71.8 percent) of child fatalities in 2017 involved children younger than 3 years old! And children younger than 1 year old accounted for 49.6 percent of all fatalities! 

So what can be done?

Improved training for child welfare workers. Researchers have noted the need for better training for child welfare workers in identifying potentially fatal situations. Current child welfare training curricula do not always address child maltreatment fatalities. A recent study of preservice child welfare training curricula in 20 States found that only 10 States even mentioned child maltreatment fatalities and that only 1 State included a full section on the topic! 

Too many times child welfare workers are overworked and underpaid. So it is much easier for them to underreport abuse or neglect or overreact and place a child in foster care, where the child is more likely to suffer even more abuse and neglect. 

Get help

I know how frustrating it can be when you have a child who is demanding of your time. It can be particularly frustrating when you have a baby with colic that won’t stop crying no matter what you do. We are fostering a baby that at times no matter what we do, she will cry continuously sometime four to five hours at a time and sleep no more than ten or fifteen minutes. If you’re in a situation like this walk away or reach out for help. Call a friend, a relative or contact a 24 hour parent support line. Just remember that getting physical with a baby will not calm them down and only make things worse—For them and for you. 

These vulnerable cannot speak up for themselves so it’s up to us adults to speak for them. Write to your legislators in your state and have them implement changes. Volunteer at one of the organizations that deal with child abuse. Most importantly, when you suspect a child is being abused, say something and do something. A child’s life may depend on it.

 

Resources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/child-abuse-statistics-2633350

https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse/ 

https://www.d2l.org

https://americanspcc.org/child-abuse-statistics/

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/media/press/2020/child-abuse-neglect-data-released

https://www.parentshelpingparents.org/copy-of-parental-stress-line

https://www.boystown.org/hotline/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.al.com/news/2019/05/one-of-the-worst-abusers-an-alabama-case-highlights-the-states-physical-child-abuse-problem.html

The Bible tells us many times that we must honor our parents. (Deut. 5:16; Gen. 18:19; Ex. 20:12; Matt. 15:14) At no point does it limit this command to parents who are honorable. God ordained parents to raise their children, teach them about God and His laws, (Psalm 78:5) and not to exasperate them. (Colossians 3:21) We all live in a fallen, sinful world, and many people live this out through their parenting. So how does this affect God’s command to honor our mother and father?

This dilemma weighs heavy on the hearts of many children of abusive parents. Certainly none of us wants to break God’s commandments, but the idea of rewarding abusers with honor seems completely contradictory to just about everything else written in the Bible, where evildoers are never honored, but are punished and suffer the consequences of their actions. (Galatians 6:7, Job 4:8)
The Hebrew word for honor in Exodus 20:12 is chabad. The Greek word for obey in Ephesians 6:2 is timao. Both calls for people to give their parents the respect and honor that is appropriate for them. It could be paraphrased to say, give parents the weight of authority that they deserve. Next to God, parents were to be highly valued, cared for, and respected.

How can we honor an abusive parent?

Our abusive parents would have us think it means letting them get away with murder, but this is already refuted in numerous Scriptures. Do they want us to believe that we have to obey them unquestioningly even if what they want is evil? I think we each need to find a definition of what “honoring” means that agrees with Scripture. To some, it might mean limited contact, an occasional card, or a brief visit. To others, it might mean letting your abusers live their lives in peace and be who they are, while you live your life in peace on the other side of the country.

It does NOT mean not calling the police and having your parents arrested for child abuse, molestation, neglect or any of the other crimes committed against many children of abusive parents.
Honoring your parents does not mean that you have to tolerate their abuse. Honoring does not mean that you never confront, or set limits on someone’s behavior. Even if you must divorce your parents and never see them again, it doesn’t mean that you’re dishonoring them. It just means that you accept that they are the way they are and that they’ll never change, which in truth is honoring them as people whose right it is to be everything they want to be; and that you still feel love for them, but you just can’t stick around for it anymore. Given the unfortunate reality of their innate hatefulness, you can still choose to set limits on them or have no contact with them, because they are destructive people. You can honor them by accepting them for who they are, not expecting change, and letting them live their own way in peace, but at the same time honor yourself and your own right to live in peace as well–Which means choosing NOT to be in their presence if they are intent on abusing you.

One of the best ways to honor someone is to help them be the very best person that they can be. The Bible gives us a few specific ways in which this applies to abusive parents:

Forgive: Matthew 18:21-22 tells us to forgive others. There is no exception for those who are abusive. Forgiving them does not absolve them of their sin in God’s eyes. It only keeps us empathetic toward them so we don’t harden ourselves against God. (Matthew 6:14-15) Some think that forgiveness means we must automatically reconcile with the one we have forgiven. The result of forgiveness may allow us to be open to reconciliation—but ONLY if the other person truly repents of their behavior. If someone broke into my house and killed one of my children, I would have to forgive them; but that doesn’t mean that I let them in so they can kill another child!
Pray: Matthew 5:44 is pretty clear: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Only the Holy Spirit can heal an abusive heart. Praying for an abusive parent with a right attitude could bring hope that he or she can come to know Christ, be changed and be the parent God designed them to be.

Love: Jesus exhorts us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) 1 Corinthians 13 is often referred to as “The Love Chapter”. It tells us that “Love is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Some of these are extremely hard when dealing with an abusive parent. This is agape love; the love that we can only show if Jesus lives in us. He does not expect us to be able to do this on our own.

The Bible also gives us counsel on how to protect ourselves and our hearts from ungodly people—including abusive parents:

Don’t be unequally yoked: Second Corinthians 6:14 basically means that we are not to have very close relationships with unbelievers. This also applies if our Christian parents act like unbelievers. (Matthew 18:15-20) Our priority is always to God, and He does not want us unduly influenced by ungodly people.

Seek godly counsel: Ask God for wisdom. (James 1:5) Recruit the advice of mature believers. (Proverbs 15:22) Share your trials with others with the intent of receiving comfort and support–Not encouragement to become resentful. (Galatians 6:2)

Let God handle them: God’s command to honor even abusive parents does not in any way mean that we should not report the abuse of a child to the appropriate authorities. Civil authorities can be used by God to provide justice, protection, and healing. Reporting abuse is required of certain professionals and may serve to save the life of a child. But there may come a time when civil interaction is not possible. If so, the most loving thing to do may be to back away and let God handle things. Allowing a sinful person to reap his own rewards may be the most gracious course of action we can take.

These are hard steps to take. Many of them will require a great deal of spiritual maturity and a fair amount of emotional detachment. It is loving and honoring to take whatever action is necessary to prevent the sins of abuse and hateful feelings. Remember that it is God who works in us, (Philippians 2:13) and if we follow Him He will complete the necessary work to enable us to honor our abusive parent.

Many of us still love our abusers, but because it is not safe to be with them, we have learned to love them from a distance. The same is true of honoring. If your parents refuse to respect your boundaries and choose to continue mistreating you, then you can limit or end, if necessary, your time with them. We can “honor” them from a safe distance and still be obedient to God’s Word.

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4: 14-15)  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8: 32)