Leo and I visited the great city of Oklahoma and toured the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial. Without a doubt, this memorial strengthened our faith in the American people, our patriotism and our feelings against
terrorism. We could not help but walk
away from this great monument with a passion that undoubtedly carved our
futures. Throughout our tour of the
memorial we could not help but think about the 168 lives lost in this horrific
event. There was one particular photo on the wall of the daycare center showing
children that were signed-in that fateful day.
It haunts us. What madman would callously murder innocent children, let
We read every sign and studied every photo in the museum. We were overwhelmed with sadness and rage at
the very same time. We began to
systematically think about terrorism and what it really means and how it affects
the use of violence and
threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terroization.
a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
begins with creating a fear within the victim and escalates quickly to injury and
in many cases death. Until September 11,
2001, few Americans were aware that terror existed beyond that seen on movies
or on TV. After 911, we became aware of
our vulnerability to suffering at the hands of people who find it acceptable to
inflict pain on innocent people without blinking an eye. The bombing in Oklahoma City traumatized this great nation. We were forced to face the anxiety of knowing
that at any time, in any place, violence can strike, and in that respect, we
are now victims of terrorism.
While we feel a deep sadness for the
victims of the attacks in New York City and Washington D.C., the plane crash in
Pennsylvania and their families and the Oklahoma City Bombing and their
families, who have lived to suffer the devastating pain of the loss of a loved
one, we began to think about the children here in the United States who live
under this anxiety every day. How did we
overlook their terrorism? Most call it
child abuse. We call it child cruelty.
In child’s world, violence comes not
at the hands of politically motivated extremists, but from their parents or
caregivers. Suffering comes not from
weapons of mass destruction, but fists, belts, scalding water, locked in dark closets,
and cruel words. Attacks are not a rare
occurrence, but a daily reality. Knowing
that it is coming is the epitome of terrorism
especially since a child is
incapable of defending himself and does not know where to turn to avoid the
torture and pain of neglect or abuse.
We kept thinking about the fact that
while we watched news coverage of buildings crumbling and thousands of
terrified, innocent people running for their lives, young spirits are being
crushed at the hands of heartless adults with no high-profile media coverage to
spark a country to awareness and action.
Yes, we occasionally see, hear and read of young victims being abused or
killed, but, few people are moved to act.
The usual response to such news is an “…Oh, no!...” statement, and then
on to breaking news.
While troops of rescue workers sift
through debris in a desperate attempt to recover victims, young children are
cowering in corners after yet another merciless beating, wondering if anyone
cares enough to rescue them. While an
entire nation mourns for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and the Oklahoma
City Bombing, abused children continue to suffer horrifically with no tears of
sadness shed on their behalf. Is it
apathy on the part of the general public?
Apparently so. we don’t see any
great rush of humanity at the breaking story of another child being beaten or
killed. Nor do we see more than
platitudes from public officials or legislators. Yes, you will hear comments that such and
such should be investigated. You hear
that so and so is understaffed, overworked, and over whelmed but you do not
hear from the front line workers who deal with child abuse on a daily basis.
For the past 25 years, we have been
working to increase America’s
awareness to the horrors of child cruelty and to bring the reality of the
unimaginable level of physical and mental suffering these children deal with to
We have written numerous commentaries
and letters to the editors of newspapers and given speeches and talks to
various groups and organizations. We have
spoken in Washington, D.C. before a distinguished group of
professionals and even sponsored a law in the California Legislature to provide
computerized criminal history to child protective service workers so that they do not reunify the child with criminals. Unfortunately, that law failed in the appropriations department. Apparently $50,000 for the entire State of California is not worth protecting children. We have spent anguished hours over the
opposition we have received and welcomed the pats on the back. But, child cruelty continues and children
continue to live the daily terror awaiting the next blow.
Statistics show that everyday,
scores of children are terrorized by abusive parents and that list continues to
grow each year. Every 10 seconds a child
is abused. Every 5 hours a child is
killed. In cold, hard terms that means
that every day a small hand is held over a flame, an infant is dipped in
scalding water, a child is forced to swallow household cleansers, an empty
stomach grumbles while parents eat, a
terrified toddler trembles in a dark, locked closet, a tiny arm is broken, a
life comes to a premature end. The
scenes of the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon were difficult to look at, but, they can’t compare to the
scenes that flash in front of the small eyes of an abused child.
I leave it to you to decide if a
child, under these circumstances, is experiencing not only terror but wondering
when it all will end.
The unified resolve shown by the
American people following the recent terrorist attacks is impressively powerful
and elicits confidence that swift, sure action will be taken to punish and
prevent terrorist acts. If only that
same level of mass resolve were focused on saving abused children. If only our country stood unified in the
defense of these helpless children, how many young victims of daily terrorism
could be saved? How many small spirits
could be recovered? How many terrorists
could be stopped?
We wonder what horrendous atrocity
must occur to a child before every American resolves to put an end to child cruelty
in every home in which it occurs.We have
stated before, in print and speeches, that there is a pandemic of child cruelty
throughout the world. Now, with the
advent of the bird flu, mad cow disease, tainted spinach, Aids and other “epidemics”,
the word pandemic has become as familiar to us as the word terrorism and,
unfortunately, we must now state that a pandemic of child cruelty now exists on
Simply put in perspective, if a
disease were killing hundreds of children in America each year, the Center for Disease
Control would mobilize everything it could to find the cause. Federal and State governments would spend
millions on treatment and trying to find a cure. No stone would be left un-turned and no sum of
money would be too great in an effort to end the pandemic. Over 3,000 children are kiled through abuse and neglect each year. Is that not an epidemic in your eyes?
Yes, our lives were forever changed by our visit to the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial