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(DV) Marshall: Child Abuse -- As American as Apple Pie







Child Abuse: As American as Apple Pie  
by Lucinda Marshall
October 30, 2006

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Lost in the homophobic political and media posturing over the Mark Foley incident is the reality that there is a global pandemic of sexual and non-sexual child abuse. The scandalous thing about the Mark Foley incident isn't that he is gay. It isn't about pedophilia either, because the roots of that word come from a Greek word meaning to love children, but there is nothing loving about sexually abusing children.  What is truly scandalous is that we live in a society where not only is such behavior condoned in the hallowed halls of Congress, but in every corner of both this country and the entire world. 

In 2002, 150 million girls and 73 million boys were sexually assaulted. Two million children were forced into working in prostitution and pornography and over one million children were actually bought and sold, according to the U.N. 
The global atrocity of child abuse however, goes far beyond sexual assault. 
53,000 children were murdered in 2002, 2893 of those murders were here in the U.S.  220 million children are economically exploited every year, half of them working in dangerous situations such as mines and five million children live in slavery. In Bangladesh, contractors providing clothing for Hanes, Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney employ children less than 11 years of age, making them work shifts as long as 20 hours according to the National Labor Committee. The children are paid 6.5 cents an hour. 
300,000 children around the world are pressed into military service every year. While there seems to be plenty of money for military recruiting in the U.S. (the Pentagon spends $4 billion dollars a year on it), the Bush Administration provided $9.4 billion dollars less in funding than promised for the educational programs mandated by the same No Child Left Behind Act that allows recruiters access to schools. 
More than one million children are imprisoned worldwide, 100,000 of them in the U.S. The U.S. is one of only four countries that sentences children to life without parole, and along with Somalia is one of only two nations in the world that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 
16,000 children die of hunger-related causes every day and more than half a million children under the age of 15 died of AIDS in 2005. According to the Census Bureau, there are 8,310,000 children in America without health insurance. The U.S. ranks 28th in the world in infant mortality. There are nine million children between the ages of 6-19 in this country alone who are obese.  And the Washington Post reports that, 
"In 2002, about 6 percent of all boys and girls were taking antidepressants, triple the rate in the period 1994-96. And about 14 percent of boys -- nearly one in seven -- were on stimulant drugs in 2002, double the number in 1994-96." 
In the context of the real enormity of child abuse both in this country and in the world as a whole, it is hardly surprising that we allow the moral of the Foley story to be mis-framed as the sexual proclivities of one man, rather than a symptom of a much larger crime. If we truly valued families and the lives of children, these are the issues we would address. 

Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad including, Awakened Woman, Alternet, Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, The Progressive, Rain and Thunder, Z Magazine, Common Dreams and Information Clearinghouse. She blogs at WIMN Online.

Other Articles by Lucinda Marshall

* Is Betty Ugly?
* Foley is a Red Herring
* What Women are Saying About the Violence in the Middle East
* Women’s Equality Day: In Praise of Radical Women
* Penis Politics
* Involuntary Motherhood
* Kathleen Parker’s Duke Rants Miss the Point
* What Mothers Really Want
* The Harm that Occurs When Women are Under- and Mis-Represented
* Ending Terrorism Against Women Begins at Home: The Urgent Need To Fully Fund VAWA
* President Bush’s Ken-Doll Performance an Insult to Women
* How Hot Does it Have to Get?
* 30,000 Iraqis, More or Less
* We're Melting
* The Turning Point
* Geena in 2008
* Before There Are 2,000 More
* The Booby Trap: Does Breast Cancer Awareness Save Lives? A Call to Re-think the Pink
* Were Women Raped in New Orleans?
* Why I Do Not Support The Troops
* The Democratic Unravelling
* Child for Sale: The Corporate Takeover of Our Classrooms
* The Dead Children's Society
* Media Exclusion of Women as Sources Impedes Meaningful Reform
* Military Pollution: The Quintessential Universal Soldier
* Honoring the Lives of Women in Perilous Times
* Why We are Horrified by the Destructive Forces of Nature but Accept Our Own Violence
* The Financial Immorality of American Generosity
* The Surreality Show: Stranger than Fiction
* (Not) In The News: Media Culpability in the Continuum of Violence Against Women

* Yanar Mohammed on the Impact of the US Occupation on the Lives of Iraqi Women
* The Misogynist Undercurrents of Abu Ghraib