One of the hardest things to cultivate once it’s been lost in a child is trust. Most child abuse occurs from a parent or trusted adult. Our frame of reference for how we deal with the world, and all those in it, is from mom and dad. A profound betrayal for a child is in knowing that those that we trusted the most, on an implicit and instinctive level, turned their back on us.
For those who work with trying to recover that trust again in children the task is monumental. It will be the hardest thing children and adults will ever have to do. Yet, what predators look for are kids who have been abused. They show tell-tell signs and are especially vulnerable to multiple abuse throughout their lives. This difficulty in assessing safety and healthy personal boundaries can stay with a victim for the rest of her life.
This is what makes early intervention crucial. But you can’t intervene unless you recognize the problem quickly and act on it. So advocates have multiple layers to address to create meaningful change in our communities.
None of this can happen without adults. Early intervention of adults means younger adults, who are ready and willing to embrace new ways of doing things. This is what makes getting the message on college campuses crucial. The energy and ability of young adults to make educated decisions and to act on a massive level is necessary. Our college kids hold the potential tipping point for dramatic reforms.
However, It all goes back to trust. Can we rebuild a child’s trust? Do we see and understand this issue? Are we willing to provide the resources necessary to act early and emphatically?
There’s no real way to count the kids we save. To create a nice, glossy bar graph showing how we turned a child’s life around. The statistics always seem to come later on. In the death count and the police reports. That’s what we pay attention to. It’s a lost opportunity not to pay more attention to the end that counts. The end that predicts the result.
A child’s trust often remains broken. It is severed from that parent or trusted friend. It continues in all of the broken relationships and get’s passed down to that child’s children. The cumulative effect of abuse on this world IS the story of our collective dysfunction in all other aspects of our existence.
Abuse is a problem we don’t deal with effectively on a massive scale. The solution won’t come from your government. Not from a politician. It won’t come from one person helping 60,000 children. It comes from 60,000 people helping just one child. Maybe two. Maybe three.
When are we going to trust that we are the solution? It’s simple and cliche and so deadly accurate. But there’s a difference in retweeting a quote and in trying to live up to the spirit of the quote. We believe in what we see being done, not in what is said. As do children. They will never trust your words because they understand the consequences of the words that were broken.
If you care about our future then you will save the trust once so freely given from a young child’s heart. There is no one else but you.