July 16, 2013

My Point Is: Child abuse or abusing child?

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The law is a complex and confusing aspect of our society.

The Fourth of July holiday, which for some became a four-day weekend, was prime example of how our society has migrated away from celebrating our freedoms to abusing our freedoms - as proven by numerous arrests for domestic violence and alcohol intoxication. In several incidents, an adult child was charged with abusing an older relative -- and all while under the influence of alcohol.

National and local news blares out the cases in which a child attacks and even sometimes kills its parents. Childhood trauma, family discord, and all the other terminologies for the lack of respect between family members have all been used as excuses. When parents say it is against the law to spank their child, they are - to some extent - correct.

The current trend of discipline discourages physical contact such as spanking and promoting alternatives such as taking away privileges. Parents who do use physical force and manage to leave visible marks are apt to spend some jail time on charges of child abuse.

But in today’s society, it is not uncommon for children to “fight back” when threatened with the loss of cherished electronic devices, even if the loss is temporary. Outright refusal to comply may often lead to physical confrontation, especially when a child defies parental requests. In those cases, a parent may choose to physically take an object and meets resistance. Any confrontation that leaves marks of any kind on a child is considered child abuse and the parent charged with such acts faces severe consequences, such as jail, court proceedings and involvement by the Cabinet for Families and Children (social workers). Law enforcement has very little choice in these situations-- the law clearly designates that marks on a child are to be considered child abuse and the person responsible must face legal charges.

But what about the child involved? The child, considered the ‘victim,’ inevitably wins. The parent is jailed, fined, and prohibited from contact with the child until social services resolves the case, which could take months. Either the parent or the child is removed from the household and the child inevitably wins.

School personnel, day care staff and other agencies dealing with children are required to report alleged abuse immediately when a child approaches them or they see evidence of physical marks on a child. There are no allowances for a parent to explain the circumstances - only instant judgment on abuse of a child. Children are aware of this and often threaten adults with reporting abuse to authorities if they are subjected to physical punishment. All it takes is one complaint and a parent’s or a guardian’s reputation can take a life-long hit. Those who are charged and found guilty of assault of a child forever carry that charge, and are then prohibited from working with children, elderly, or otherwise ‘dependent’ beings from that time on - often limiting their own job opportunities.

What a shame that we have evolved into a society where respect for adults is neither taught nor enforced, but is instead twisted around to allow children to openly physically and verbally abuse the very people who care for them without fear of punishment.

Our society today strongly resembles a sci-fi movie in which children are the dominant forces and parents are slaves to their whims.

Perhaps it is time to revisit our laws and get back to the basics of respect and honor that is outlined in the controversial Ten Commandments which states clearly: Honour thy father and thy mother.”