I love to read. I read everything from imaginative children’s books such as Where the Wild Things Are, to painful yet eye-opening works such as The Bluest Eye. For me reading is like literary yoga; it is strengthening and peaceful. That is, until yesterday when I read a news article entitled “Father Accused of Raping 3-Month Old Daughter.” Needless to say, I didn’t much feel like reading anymore.
According to the aforementioned article by the Associated Press, Kirk Coleman, a veteran of the war in Iraq, pleaded guilty to first degree child abuse of his three-month old daughter. Coleman went on to describe four incidents of abuse that ultimately lead to his daughter suffering numerous broken bones and brain damage. Coleman faces up to five years in prison.
Let’s take a step back for a second. At three months old, a child is likely just beginning to roll over. Not walk or run, roll over. At three months, a child is finally able to hold onto a rattle, kick her little legs, and, most rewardingly, smile. What children are not able to do, shouldn’t have to do, is defend themselves from their parents or loved ones as they attack them, often repeatedly.
Far too many children are victims of child abuse each year. Where there was once a time that communities raised children, now even babies can’t be assured of safety within their own homes. As adults, we must consider that strangers are no longer the only threat to our children; unfortunately, we may need to protect them from ourselves. If you are a parent, seek help from friends or relatives when you need rest or are feeling stressed out and ask your community centers or local schools to develop parenting classes that will teach you about your child’s behavior. Ask them to offer a center for support when you are feeling unable to cope with the demands of parenting.
It would be easy to blame or judge. Yet, the bottom line is that we all must do better. For if we don’t we will simply continue to recycle our shortcomings and pain for generations to come. To learn more about what you can do to prevent child abuse, including helpful tips, visit www.preventchildabuse.org.