Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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An artist's autobiography
Sunday August 05, 2007

An artist about his childhood

An autobiography of the Norwegian artist and comedian Trond Kirkvaag (61), who is now in hospital because he became sick of cancer this summer, was freed on Wednesday. In the book "Don't come closer - me and father" Trond Kirkvaag tells about his father, the famous Rolf Kirkvaag, who worked for NRK (Norwegian National Broadcasting) and was much loved for his children's programs. His son shows another, a dark, side of this kind "uncle" for all children in Norway.
He behaved like a tyrant towards his son, who was very afraid of him. He beat the child, threw him out of the house when he was five etc. It's horrible that many people now criticize the son Trond Kirkvaag for telling about "private" things, and for showing us a "one-dimensional picture" of a great man, his father. And because the father is dead, he can't even protect himself, they say.
But child mistreatment is NOT a private matter. In fact Norwegian law permitted parents to physically beat children when Trond was a boy. A society's legal upbringing of children is certainly not a private issue. No one should be shocked of Trond's story. And the other, cosy, side of his hero father we already knew, so Trond doesn't have to tell us that one. On behalf of many former Norwegian children, I want to thank Trond Kirkvaag very much for his honesty.
My dream is that artists and other famous persons in all countries of the world, who have had a childhood like Trond Kirkvaag, will let their story be known to their people and their politicians. Many, many countries still permit violence against children. Especially in these countries the truth about parental violence should become known.

S.T., Oslo, Norway

AM: You are right: child mistreatment is not a private matter. For that reason I fully agree with you that it should be shown and not covered by silence. Usually however, the grown up children are hated by society when they disclose the brutality of their parents in public because most people were battered children; even as adults, they are afraid to see the truth and to be punished for SEEING. We must work against this fear, and we are doing this also here.

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