Fantastic (Under-reported) News: Child Abuse WAY DOWN!

Hi Readers — Yes, it’s true! According to this story by the Associated Press, a “massive” federal study finds that child abuse has declined a whopping 26% from 1993 to 2006. What’s more, child sexual abuse is down even more dramatically: 38%!

The reasons seem to be a combination of higher awareness of the crime, less tolerance of it, less shame in reporting it, and more professionals (cops, teachers, social workers, therapists) focused on its prevention and detection. On the perp side, more arrests for the crime seems to have helped, as have therapeutic drugs that tamp down criminal urges. (I always like to say when the criminally insane feel less insane, they become less criminal. But I’m not sure that’s PC.)

According to David Finkelhor, a guy I quote a lot in my book who is head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, “We’ve seen substantial declines over a long period and that’s tremendously encouraging.” In other words: This is not a fluke. Child abuse has been going down for a while.

What’s less encouraging is the fact that this study was not the lead story in every American news outlet. (Yoo hoo! Nancy Grace!)  If child abuse was UP 26%, I doubt it would have been buried. And certainly the story of a single, horrific case can make headlines for days, or weeks. But, as this AP article points out, it’s possible the multi-million dollar report was issued without much fanfare — not even a press release —  because dollars do not flow to problems that are decreasing. You can’t write a grant saying, “Now that there are fewer kids in danger we need more money.”

Cynically I must add that good news about kids and safety does not sell newspapers, or TV air time or parenting magazines or…anything. In fact, it is such an odd story, it violates the whole “Is you child in peril?! Stay tuned!” news template.

So let’s not minimize the problem that still exists — a 26% drop is not a 100% drop, after all. But let us celebrate some good news, even if no one else will. — Lenore

Help, Daddy! A Grandma Smiled At Me! Will She Kidnap Me?

Hi Free-Rangers!
Just though I’d share this little note I got from Australia this morning. Makes you realize it’s a small world after all: A small,  paranoid, danger-halucinating world.
This is from a lady named Vivienne:

Walking in Ikea.
 
I am a pleasant-enough, smiley grandmoter of 9. A man with his daughter of about 3 or 4 parks her near me as he steps to look at a shelf.
 
I smile as I step past and the child screams.
 
“Don’t leave me Daddy! Someone is going  to steal me!”  I almost pass out with shock.
 
Today,  walking into a ladies toilet, a child passing by asks her Daddy if she can go in.
 
“No,” he says, “someone might take you.”   I don’t even dare suggest that I take her in.
 
 I can’t stand it.
 
It’s as if parents have joined a mad cult. What’s the pay off?
 
I had five free range kids. They’d walk down to the wool shed with lunch for Jim  and a mile to the school bus each morning . They walked to visit Granny three miles over five steep ridges, and they now  live all over the world, which was always my intent for them .
 
Is it that children are now regarded as possessions?
 
Lighten up.
 
#

We’re trying, Viv! — Lenore