I usually keep this blog pretty light. This week, I’m going taking an unusual turn to talk about a serious subject that has been on my mind a lot lately – child abuse. Here’s the thing… I am the dad of four-year-old twins. I love being a dad. Right there next to picking the right life partner, it’s at the top of my list of best things that have ever happened to me. I see stories on the news of child abuse and neglect, and it tears at my heart. I could not imagine ever hurting my children. To the contrary, I see my role as father as being their protector. A big part of my job is to create a safe haven for them away from the cruelties of the world. So, when I see, hear, and read about stories of child abuse on a weekly basis in the media, I can’t help but get angry, upset, and frustrated. It is a parent’s job to protect their children. Sometimes, the kids I hear about in these stories are old enough that they could have reported their parents’ abuse or reported it sooner, but didn’t. The reasons for this are complicated, including the fact that they still love their parents, might be convinced that they did something to deserve how they are being treated, fear retaliation, or fear separation.
I have a message for any young person who might be reading this. There is something that I want you to have crystal clear in your mind. It is this: If your parents are hurting you, they are wrong. It doesn’t matter what you did. It doesn’t even matter if you think you are a bad kid. There is nothing you could do that should result in your parents causing you physical harm. Do you understand? It doesn’t matter if they call it discipline. It doesn’t matter if they tell you that you “made them” do it. They are wrong. You don’t deserve to be hurt. A parent should never slap, hit, kick, punch or otherwise harm a child. Period. End of story.
It might be scary to think about taking steps to remove yourself from an abusive parent or parents, but for the sake of your own safety, you need to take them. Find a safe adult that you can report the abuse to. Maybe it’s a teacher or school counselor, a neighbor or a friend’s parent. You need to be brave and take the necessary steps to protect yourself from the abuse. You don’t deserve to be treated the way you are being treated. You deserve to be safe.
If you aren’t ready to tell someone you know about the abuse, but you would like to talk to someone, then you can contact the Childhelp hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Their counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Good luck, and remember: No parent should hurt a child.