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Invisible Children

The Impact of Abuse

We all learn to live with our own flaws, nutty behaviors, and past traumas. With help from family, friends, and social institutions, we develop into functioning adults within our community.

Child abuse adds a dimension to human development that is much harder to live with. By child abuse, I mean repeated or severe emotional or physical neglect or trauma. As a guardian ad-Litem, I have seen two-year old children sexually abused. Mothers are beaten and raped in the presence of their children. The emotional neglect of alcoholic and drug addicted parents for their children, never goes away.

Trauma suffered by a child may be the same for a raped or beaten child and a child who watches mother being raped or beaten.

Mental development of abused children is very different from that of normal children. Their concentration is on avoiding pain and developing skills for living in insane situations. Sex, violence, and drugs are normal for some abused children. Being normal in the community becomes impossible. How can a child unlearn sex, violence, and drug use?

Most abused children don’t like themselves, trust adults, do well in school, or conform to other people’s rules. It’s hard to unlearn terrible behaviors. It’s hard to live with the constant anxiety and fear that have been hardwired into an abused child.

Growing up is getting more complicated every year. We live in a frenetically busy society with conflicting values and attitudes. We have little time for people who don’t make the grade and few resources for children with great needs.

American schools provide almost no mental health services to students. Teachers are expected to manage severely troubled children with almost no training.. Most mentally ill children are placed in special education classes, and proscribed Prozac and other psychotropic medications to keep them from disrupting classrooms and hurting themselves and others.

We are an advanced nation with the money and expertise to help abused children lead normal lives. Programs and therapy for abused children can help them cope with their own past and learn the life skills necessary to succeed in school and in our community.

We can all be for that. Call a legislator, tell a friend, or send a letter to someone with influence.

Mike Tikkanen www.invisiblechildren.org

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