I've reprinted this post almost every year since 2010. But this year it's especially relevant. You can be sure that this year, the Astroturf fill-in-the-blanks op-eds that various advocacy groups send to their local chapters will be filled with references to an "epidemic" or a "pandemic" of child abuse - as though the moment white middle-class professionals can't have their "eyes" on poor children of color, their parents will rush to torture them.
I hope that before pushing the send button on these generic submissions, people will at least have the decency to pause and think long and hard about just how racist that framing is.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 1, 2010 , UPDATED APRIL 1, 2018, AND MARCH 31, 2020
While the establishment of a certain degree of public horror relative to the issue of child abuse and neglect was probably necessary in the early years to create public awareness of the issue, the resulting conceptual model adopted by the public has almost certainly become one of the largest barriers to advancing the issue further in terms of individual behavior change, societal solutions and policy priorities.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 1, 2010:
· Our essay on how to really prevent child abuse: take a social justice approach instead of a public health approach.
Poverty increases the stress that can lead to actual abuse and, as noted above, poverty itself often is confused with "neglect." This can be seen by the fact that study after study shows even small increases in income significantly reduce what child welfare systems call "neglect."