Let us begin this article by praying for the seven month old infant who is in a local hospital suffering from brain damage allegedly at the hands of a twenty-six year old boyfriend. The mother of the infant and her boyfriend have been arrested. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have heard of such a horrific scenario in Western New York where I live. The sad reality is that this horrific scenario happens over and over again all across America and the world. I have always had a difficult time wondering how or why adults in general and even juveniles in particular can target children for the purpose of inflicting hurt, pain, and, in some cases, death.”
There are times when such abuse of children is attributed to mental illness. Remember the woman who drowned all four of her children. Susan Smith drove her two boys, strapped securely in their car seats, into the lake. Locally, I recall a mother slamming her child’s head against an outdoor pillar. She claimed the boy was demonic. Who can forget the passage in Beloved, which was so aptly depicted in the film portrayal of the same name? Sethe/Oprah Winfrey can be seen slashing her baby’s throat and trying to knock the life out of her two sons by flailing them against a barn wall. In Sethe’s mind she was protecting her children from being carried into enslavement. Perhaps the mental illness component of child abuse can be reduced through treatment. The key is that potential abusers have to be recognized and given treatment beforehand instead of after the damage has been done.
The adult targeting of children is phenomenal. It logically goes against the grain of nature, which seeks to preserve itself. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, referred to the children he killed in the terrorist attack as collateral damage. The same has been said of drone attacks. Terrorist suicide bombers or truck drivers do not wait to see if children are present before they unleash their terror on unsuspecting civilians. Two major Biblical stories are based on the killing of children. The first has to do with the birth of Moses in the Old Testament. The second has to do with the birth of Jesus in the New Testament. Edit were sent forth on the news of each birth that all Hebrew children under a certain age should be slain. When there is an outbreak of genocide, the children are not saved. Some of the most disturbing footage from the civil war in Syria has to do with children being pulled from the rubble of bomb buildings. Some of the children survive. Some are pulled from one grave and placed in another. The bombing of civilians in Syria is the daily equivalent of Oklahoma City.
America passes many laws that are intended to protect children. These range from child protector caps on medicine to rear facing car seats. There are laws that enhance penalties for having guns and drugs near schools. There are laws regarding texting near schools while driving. There are laws to protect children from smokers while transporting children in a car or truck. Such laws beg the question that society is concerned with protecting its future by protecting the children. Yet, Congress finds it difficult to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Many in the Republican Party simply want to end health coverage for millions of Americans including children. Why are these adults so willing to target children?
There is an ongoing debate as to how to discipline children. The Bible says “spare the rod; spoil the child.” Many have interpreted this passage as a green light for corporal punishment. On the other hand, corporal punishment has been listed as once removed from child abuse. Former Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson crossed the line in from corporal punishment to alleged child abuse. In the African American community comedians use this topic as a standard monologue laugh generator. What is certain, however; is that no child/infant should ever suffer brain damage for having had to box with an adult. Infants cannot say stop hitting me. Infants cannot fight back. Infants cannot run away to protect themselves. If ever there was a time I wish I had superhuman powers, it would be to defend children from their abusers.
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Dr. Neal is an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, he has had his work published in the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Issues in Higher Education. In 2014 Dr. Neal received the university’s Faculty Appreciation Award, was named Instructor of the Year by the university’s United Student Government, and Professor of the Year by the Student Political Society in the Department of Political Science. In 2015, he published The American Political Narrative which is a succinct yet poignant narrative about the development of the American political system and what is needed to maintain it. In 2016, he will publish a book of poetry entitled “Love Agnostic | from 9/11 to Charleston”