Abused Children: Concealed Emotions

Steve DeFillippo’s Point of View

Abused Children: Concealed Emotions

Occasionally an abused child gets national headlines and our attention is focused on a specific case. Once the headlines vanish child abuse leaves our attention and concern. However the child abuse problem is rampant in this country and in constant need of community help, everywhere.

When we see children outside of their home environment they appear to be unscathed by any fowl deeds against them. However, we really cannot tell their mental condition from a brief encounter. So what really lurks inside the minds of children who have been victims of physical abuse or maltreatment beyond the norm of a civilized society? Dastardly acts against children are a human tragedy and we need to do everything humanly possible to protect children. Dysfunctional family life is a silent terror to children and proper counseling is mandatory for the child’s “recovery”.

According to a University of Nevada Cooperative Extension course:

“In 2009, over 2.5 million referrals involving allegations of maltreatment of 3.6 million children were reported in the United States; approximately 22 percent of these were substantiated.” (Many cases are never reported so the statistics do not tell the full story.)

Natural Parent (mother/father) is responsible for 86.78 % of maltreatment of children and Stepparents another 3.53%.

How often have we read that a person who has committed an evil criminal act was said to have been a nice quiet neighbor? A person they say would never have been thought to do such awful things. A few brief encounters periodically can easily misrepresent the true nature of a complex human being. Well, it seems we read about this phenomenon constantly, somewhere in our society.

Likewise it is not easy to unveil the concealed emotions of a child. The trauma they go through seems to keep their dilemma hidden in themselves. It seems that when children are placed in a friendly, comfortable environment they have a respite from their emotional trauma but they hide this from their outside world.

One place where children’s emotional trauma may be suspected or revealed is in school. When children are in school, among their peers, their true emotions may not be evident. However, teachers with daily contact and interchange with a child can more easily detect behavioral changes from day to day. The child may even open up to the teacher about what is bothering them. Teachers are not only crucial to the lifeblood our society’s future but they can be the first line of defense to mitigate the abuses to children. An early detection system; if you will!

The counseling programs in place in the school system today need to be supported by the community. They should be continually evaluated and enhanced to make sure that our school principal, teachers, and counselors have the personnel, training and resources they need to fulfill their mission within the limits of the law.

Considering the importance and value of the school counseling program, I called a local principal of an elementary school to find out whether the recent budget cuts affected this program. I was assured they were intact; thank God!

Before completing this article I happened to surf the TV movies, as men do, and found a three star movie directed by Angelica Huston entitled:Bastard Out of Carolina. The subject matter coincided with my article, so I watched the last 20 minutes of it. It was the most shocking, nauseating visual I had ever seen. A step father was raping and beating a petite 10-12 year old girl. So shocking and evil, I later found out that scene was banned in Canada but later allowed through court action. The movie concluded with the biological mother stopping the ugly act in progress by her second husband; but within minutes she started to forgive him. The mother left the child with the aunt and went off with this evil man. And guess what? the child never reveals to the police who raped and beat her. Wow! Talk about a dysfunctional family, this had to be the epitome of the worst of the worst. Was this movie fiction or a true depiction of reality?

Fortunately, in addition to the school counseling programs, there are other organizations that focus on this evil problem. However, they need continued support to help children from hunger, abuse and mental trauma; and not just when the headlines get our attention. I believe we all have a moral obligation to help in whatever capacity we can to mitigate the long lasting mental effects of maltreatment of children. I would hope you agree.

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