Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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An Open Letter of Gratitude
Monday October 15, 2007

Dear Alice Miller,

I want to express a letter of thanks for your determination and courage to write and paint, and speak up the truth about ending the cycle of child abuse, and violence in general in our world. I too was a severely and chronically abused child, and I began my path of rescue from that childhood, beginning with "an enlightened witness" when I was 12 years old. My grade school music teacher had the courage to believe in me, to validate me, thus beginning a path of healing, which continues 25 years later. I believe that the single greatest gift that a mother can give her child is the mother's own healing. In the Native way, when one does a healing for oneself it brings healing "for all my relations". The courage of the present generation to heal brings healing to the broken circles and pain of previous generations abused lives, and prevents abuse towards the future generations. There is also the "Seventh Generation" principle, which states that the impact of all major decisions must be considered to the Seventh Generation. Thus, it will take a full 7 generations in order for Canada's Aboriginal Peoples to have healed from the cultural genocide committed against them by the Canadian government in the last century. This will not be without much courage to heal on the part of current generations.

I know the healing path I have chosen for myself, one that has been quite raw with acknowledging reality and the truth at times, has made me a very different parent to my now 8 year old then my own parents were to me! Halleluiah, my son feels so little the negative impact of my own childhood! In turn, I acknowledge the realities of the children around me, and feel that by being "an enlightened witness" to a child who needs it, I can thus, influence a child to pursue their own healing path, and authentically make a difference in the world.

My current frustrations being now a public school teacher myself in Canada, is how my country pays lips service to the protection of children. Again this is a country that completely devastated its own Aboriginal people, primarily through taking away land, then taking away their children. Time and time again, I find myself faced with the realities of children's lives, where the children's aid societies are literally powerless to stop the violence. I am enraged by how our constitution and laws are set up so that the needs of the children never supersede the rights of the parents. In Canada, it is legal to spank a child 12 and under, as was keenly pointed out to me by a social worker I had a long conversation with recently regarding a child, whose abuse I reported. I asked her "So, when a child becomes, pound for pound, on par with the adult, smacking and hitting can then be considered assault? Are you telling me that corporal punishment against the child is condoned, so long as there is a physical power imbalance between parent and child?" Her silence on the other end of the phone was deafening.

However, to put the needs of the child rightly IN FRONT of the rights of the parents requires a financial commitment on the part of politicians and society at large. It would require a whole lot more foster homes, significant foster home reform, which are often more abusive then the family home itself. It would require more social workers, more family therapists, more psychologists, more psychiatrists, and the legal back bone to be able to "do the right thing" when they all feel it professionally necessary. However, the benefit to society is that it would require less prisons, less psychiatric wards, less judicial systems for the next generation. It would create a more peaceful, productive, and enlightened society. But it requires our current society to uphold and value the needs of children as it's number one priority, when society itself is wounded.

How do I convince short sighted politicians of the wide sweeping, and long term impacts that protecting and validating the needs of children, when governments continue to wound the children themselves with their own lies, by the propaganda of "we care about children", when time and time again, the statement has no constitutional or financial weight to it?

Your insights here on how to affect large scale change here would be helpful.

Blessed be the Wounded Healer, for they know and speak the truth!!

V. S.

AM: I can understand your indignation about the hypocrisy of governments that "care" about children and I can share your feelings. But I have no solution to suggest to you. What you are doing is still the best: to question absurd statements, to show these people the absurdity of their arguments. But most of them are not accessible to your questions because their logic is based on their fear of their parents and on the messages they got from them when they were 3 to 4 years old: that children need to be spanked. And THESE messages seem to be stronger than whatever we say or write. They seem to be the hard disk in their brain computer. However, we must continue to talk and to write, as you rightly do.

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