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Warning: America is dangerous for kids Print E-mail
By Bevil Bramwell, OMI   
Sunday, 18 May 2014

Michael Petit, president of Every Child Matters, writes that: “Over the past ten years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

I went back to that article on the BBC website after reading another the other day entitled: “Who are the fifty-five bodies buried at the Dozier School?” It describes a real horror: “Within the past year, anthropologists working for the University of South Florida (USF) have exhumed the remains of fifty-five children on the grounds of the now-shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.” The rest of the story is a disturbing account of physical abuse at the reform school, which operated from 1900-2011. (In addition, such facts have to be laid out alongside the truly horrific statistics of abortions in the United States.)

American culture is appallingly hostile to children. Not only does our obsession with power and violence lead to this hostility, but our Enlightenment sense of the mere utility of kids promotes the killing of unborn children because they are inconvenient. The statistics on violence and kids in Catholic situations are probably comparable to those in the rest of society because our institutions show similar incidences for all the other social deviations.

The deeper problem for Catholics – and all those who have a sane view of such things – lies in the irreplaceable value of children in society. Vatican II taught that: “By their very nature, the institution of matrimony itself and conjugal love are ordained for the procreation and education of children, and find in them their ultimate crown.” Wipe out the children, or abuse them in some other way, and marriage itself becomes a kind of horrible farce, an evil caricature of true union and true love. Our own sin and societal evil will always lead us to underestimate just how much damage is done.

The Council went on to speak about the treasure of the union of the married couple: “As a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union and the good of the children impose total fidelity on the spouses and argue for an unbreakable oneness between them.” The good of the children is part of the spiritual and material cement that holds the couple to increased efforts in lovingly relating to each other and their kids, with deep respect as persons imaging the personal God.


         Suffer the Little Children . . . by Fritz von Uhde, 1884

More profoundly still: “As living members of the family, children contribute in their own way to making their parents holy. For they will respond to the kindness of their parents with sentiments of gratitude, with love and trust. They will stand by them as children should when hardships overtake their parents and old age brings its loneliness.” (Vatican II) The wonderful interrelationships of parents and kids create a network of grace and truth.

These are not sectarian values, but are founded within the natural law and elevated by God’s grace. At no point are the parents held as more valuable than their children. What the Council did was to safeguard the interrelationships constituting the family instead of giving overriding priority to the rights of individuals – and thus the priority of adults – and distorting what a family actually is. The Council’s teaching that children assist their parents in becoming holy takes us into the most transcendent dimension of the phenomenon of human family. This may in fact provide the key to the strange connection in the United States between children and violence.

If the human family is created to bring people to holiness, then of course we will oppose that reality in proportion to our sinfulness. We will also conceal it in proportion to our sinfulness. Notice that the information cited above about the Dozier School came from foreign and not domestic news services. The larger issue is that the spirit of this world does not want our holiness. This is where the Church faces a challenge.

Putting aside the clergy and laity who are anti-family, the rest of the Church should be engaged in building families at every opportunity. The abuse scandals have seriously disrupted the Church’s work with children. No surprise there. If children are a source of holiness then of course the Evil One will attack the Church through children.

By making them more expensive to operate, society is squeezing out Catholic schools that usually teach values that are an affront to a corrupt society. Congregations of religious are getting out of caring for children because they are seeking more “relevant” ministries. The choice of what is relevant comes from a sinful society that has no business deciding such things. But that truth has not yet risen to consciousness on any great scale here.

Family is one thing that Catholicism should be going all out to develop and sustain. Maybe it would lead to a rebirth of the Church and the culture. But for now, “the problem of violence against children [is]. . .much more acute in the U.S. than anywhere else in the industrialized world.” (Michael Petit)

 
Fr. Bevil Bramwell, OMI PhD is the former Undergraduate Dean at Catholic Distance University. His books are Laity: Beautiful, Good and TrueThe World of the Sacraments, and, most recently, Catholics Read the Scriptures: Commentary on Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini.
 
 
 
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Comments (29)Add Comment
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written by ron a., May 18, 2014
Great article Father! In their own way, children possess man's most venerable qualities: innocence, purity, trust, openness to the future---and, love. This, perhaps, because they are closest to God.... And, if allowed, they serve, innately, to unite, especially the parents to whom they are a gift. And, most importantly, in my opinion, they serve to take those who love and care for them outside of themselves. Can those who hurt a child be any further removed from God?
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written by Jack,CT, May 18, 2014
@rona.,I could not agree more and u sum it up
so well and profoundly!
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written by Jack,CT, May 18, 2014
Father and Doctor Bramwell,Ron up there sums up the
Importance of our "Angels"!

There are so many reasons why In The world our
children are exploited,abused,neglected and simply
shown no Love and I apreciarte you not trying to
describe or explain i a short sunday essay,but I
do see a society unaware of what a sacrament is,
and a focus on "screens and tech world".I read thaat
the average child is in front of a screen 4-5 hours
daily!

We push away and allow some kids to raise the parents
so many others try finishing a childhood with them.

Fatal abuses as you have described are simply crimial
and seem to have something to do with those outside
the walls of the home (i most cases) and in the
arms of the state and church so we have alot work
regaining the trust of a bruised society do'nt we?

Forensics finding 55 bodys at that school and prob
double that in the ground would equal a murder a year
for the entire last century! (AT LEAST)

I must admit prayer would help all cases but we
even neglect that, why!




We have become a society obsessed with awareness
but no change.I ask for a simple prayer for all
our helpless young and old....



















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written by Manfred, May 18, 2014
"The abuse scandals have seriously disrupted the Church work with children. No surprise there. If children are a source of holiness then of course the Evil One will attack the Church through children."Father, could you be more clear? Are you raising the canard that it was the child victims who tempted their predators?

"By making them more expensive to operate, society is squeezing out Catholic schools..." Could you please cite specific examples of the ways society is accomplishing this? I have known that as the teaching orders of Sisters were drastically reduced in numbers and could no longer provide adequate staff, that lay people, often married with those attendant costs, were brought in to teach and their wages increased the tuition costs. Thus began the spiral of higher tuitions and fewer srudents. Was society responsible for the LCWR, or was it internal heterodoxy?
BTW, relarively few boys attended the Dozier School, while millions of our children are exposed to the pornography of "sex education" in the schools which is destroying their souls.
Thank you.
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written by schm0e, May 18, 2014
“America the Abominable,” it would seem. But are there any stats on how children fair in other countries that are presumably less "appallingly hostile" to children, or less "obsessed with power and violence", or have less of that "Enlightenment sense of the mere utility of children?" Something tells me there’s a better than even chance the facts would be more abominable across the board. Perhaps training them to be jihadis, for example – and possibly condemning their souls to Hell -- is less abominable. But alas, America is a popular target – much more so than any Muslim country.

Not that it would excuse any act of child abuse nor reduce the grievousness of abortion. It would only put the subject into better perspective and properly broaden its scope.

Additionally, having singled out America, the author notably omits any reference to the Church's own abominable treatment of children here in the past generation or so. That is at least as inexcusable as the examples (and generalities) that are mentioned here. Perhaps more so, for a child used to be told of a Catholic priest, "This man will get you to heaven. Trust him." Nobody ever said that of a reform school boss.

And perhaps even more so still, as a causative agent. I submit that as goes the church, so goes the culture around it, eventually.
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written by Mack Hall, May 18, 2014
Presidents' wives do not promote the murder of their own children and grandchildren, but have no objection to the rest of us murdering ours.
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written by Theodore Seeber, May 18, 2014
When Pope Francis can get Italians to have children again, perhaps we'll stand a chance at reversing this trend in the United States. YES, our culture is dangerous for children. But as was mentioned previously, Muslim countries, for all their large families, are largely breeding children to be soldiers and killed long before they grow up. And European nations are failing to reproduce at an astounding rate, children are rare in Europe. So no, America is not alone in this. And I would like the author to tell me who is child friendly.
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written by The Sanity Inspector, May 18, 2014
How about a source for that 20,000 killed figure? Over the years I have found it prudent to simply dismiss scare statistics bruited by advocacy groups.
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written by DougH, May 18, 2014
While I definitely agree with the article as a whole, I do need to object to the reference to the "American culture." The United States have no single culture, except in the broadest sense. While certainly much of the US are intensely hostile to children, that isn't true for all of them.
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written by Fr. Bevil Bramwell OMI, May 18, 2014
Hi there Schmoe - the stats are for industrialized countries. Seeber - most kids in Muslim countries do not become soldiers otherwise we would be awash in 9/11's.

Sanity Inspector try the organization cited in the column.

DougH - For all practical purposes there is one American culture, one commercialized system, one remarkably consistent set of media, one remarkably uniform set of educational institutions etc. etc. Differences usually do not go very deep.
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written by Fr. Bevil Bramwell OMI, May 18, 2014
Manfred the first part of your comment is too fringe even to be dignified with an answer. As to the second part educational departments are becoming more demanding for everything from special classes and facilities that have to be offered to scripting subjects such as sex-ed. From a fiscal point of view probably the largest factor however is still the collapse in the teaching orders and the slowness of dioceses to start new ones.
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written by Jack,CT, May 18, 2014
I assume people see past my errors in spelling,lol! Father I have no idea why the Anger directed toward you. I felt it was a wonderful article and accomplshed your goals.

America is America friends we really can not create safe zones or we would all be there. Theodore is a product of twenty four/seven news! Most of the 2 billion Muslims are very good people and far from "Breeders of jihad", how sad we would think such things.
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written by Seanachie, May 18, 2014
"The statistics on violence and kids in Catholic situations are probably comparable to those in the rest of society because our institutions show similar incidences for all the other social deviations." Your statement appears to be a vague (what Catholic situations, what institutions) and gratuitous claim. What specifically are you saying and what data do you offer to support it?
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written by Graham, May 19, 2014
The practice of putting profanities in the mouths of children is by now a decades-long practice in the cultural industry -- books, "graphic novels," TV, movies... The other day a friend was watching the sitcom "Modern Family." During a wedding ceremony the very young adopted daughter of the gay couple (hence "Modern" Family) was a flower girl at a heterosexual wedding. In addition to the bride and bridesmaids dressed in ridiculous outfits including glowing plastic wreathes, the flower girl began to issue a long stream of profanities at the altar(digitized out of course). Apparently this was a "cute" habit she had picked up earlier in the program. First a few people laughed, then the whole congregation began roaring with laughter stopping the ceremony. Marriage, children, the whole idea of the family as portrayed in the Nativity is held in contempt. The true reason the image is attacked each Christmas. That violence against children -- the ultimate predation -- is common should surprise no one. It is now two generations since Roe v. Wade. That these children became adults who are self-absorbed, hedonistic and at the same time violently "activist," was probably foreseeable. Perhaps this aristocracy of the born has unspoken questions about why they survived reproductive rights and others did not. Might this not give them a sense of entitlement? Or just as tragic a sense of the absurd? Are they morally unhinged because they are planned and intentional and so also potentially expendable? They have been after all subjected to all the risks and freedoms of a culture that will experiment with their creation, birth, and lives in the name of social justice, of evolving, of progressing, of civil rights. In a very real sense millions of children are born to parents who have really "adopted" them. Luck of the draw.
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written by Fr. Bevil Bramwell OMI, May 19, 2014
Hi Seanachie, what I am saying is deviations like divorce, using contraception, abortion etc. occur at the same frequency in the Catholic population as they do in the general population. So I am assuming that something like violence in the home, sexual abuse etc will also be at the same frequency as they are in the general population. You have very high expectations of an 800 word column!
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written by bill b, May 19, 2014
In 2003 UNICEF issued a report on child deaths by mistreatment in rich nations. The US was awful but two Catholic cultures were worse...Portugal and Mexico. From Common
Dreams dot org... "By comparison, the death rate in the United States, according to UNICEF, was three times higher, at 24 per million, while in Mexico, it came to 30 per million and in Portugal, the highest, 37 per million children.". Catholic Spain,Italy and Ireland though were all better than the US.
Let's keep perspective.

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written by Mr. Levy, May 19, 2014
Thank you very much, Father Bramwell, for your powerful, even if grim, column. for an little-heard perspective on just how anti-child our society has become, I would recommend to your readers the books Home Alone America by Mary Eberstadt and Day Care Deception by Brian Anderson.
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written by Mikehorn, May 20, 2014
When priests actually have to live in this world, I'll start taking their procreation advice seriously. The person with something valid to say has married, gotten their own education, a career, had to worry about housing on their own dime, food, and how to provide from a child through those efforts. Priests don't have these worries. Some priests saw some this decades ago. The world is different now. Limiting family size is a matter of survival, both here and abroad. I'd rather have three or four kids that are well fed, educated, and in good health (all costing big money) than more that grow up neglected and defective.

Another alternative is for the Church to pay for all medical, educational, food, and housing costs. Have some interest in the game before whining from the peanut gallery.
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written by Fr. Bevil Bramwell OMI, May 20, 2014
Wow, complaining about people killing their kids is "whining"? You are so far out that I have no idea what to say.
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written by Mr. Levy, May 20, 2014
Mikehorn - Are you sure YOU "actually have to live in this world"? Priests have to hear confessions of all kinds, counsel individuals of all ages and backgrounds, comfort the dying and the ill, and perform a multitude of other tasks requiring them to face questions of sin, mortality, and eternity. Meanwhile, most of the rest of us toddle along from day to day, from breakfast to work to dinner to television to bed, enjoying our freedom from such serious cares.

In this regard, consider the speech of Shakespeare's Henry V about the special burdens of kings, which might be applied generally to priests as well:

"Upon the king! Let us our lives, our souls, our debts, our careful wives, our children, and our sins lay on the king!
We must bear all. O hard condition,
Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath
Of every fool, whose sense no more can feel
But his own wringing. What infinite heart’s ease
Must kings neglect that private men enjoy?"
Etc.

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written by ron a., May 20, 2014
Mikehorn---Your argument is commonplace and, I believe, simplistic. I'll simplify it even more: our Culture has become overwhelmingly MATERIALISTIC---and, therein, lies the source of most of the conflicts. My wife and I have 5 children (on a modest income) and 13 grandchildren and I totally support Humanae Vitae and all that it stands for.
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written by Beth, May 21, 2014
Mikehorn--you may choose to have only four children because of what YOU feel is necessary to raise them. Fair enough. We all have hopes and dreams for our children. My husband and I have eight children. If we were to line up your list of necessities against our list of necessities they may be the same and they may be very, very different. But I would hope that (since you are reading a Catholic website) you would not judge my children as "neglected and defective."

What one wants and desires for ones children can sometimes be much more than what ones child/children NEEDS. It is a violence against families to judge large families on how much disposable income they have....
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written by ron a., May 21, 2014
Beth- "...you would not judge my children as 'neglected and defective'"---this, a frequent conviction spewing from the mouths of the same people who feel it is "child abuse" to baptize and raise a child Christian. These are the lies of the advanced secularist; the lies of the "Prince of Darkness". Few within, and without, the Church are willing to admit it; but, we are (despite scientific progress, perhaps, because of it) inexorably entering another Dark Age. The Secular Humanist would turn everything upside down, as Pride swallows up Humility. And so it is back to the beginning!
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written by Fr. Bevil Bramwell OMI, May 21, 2014
Good, everyone has kids. Would anyone care to say something against violence against kids?
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written by Beth, May 22, 2014
But Fr Bramwell, the comments thread regarding materialism IS about violence against kids. I agree with your article--a great deal of violence is perpetuated on children in our nation and it's not just physical abuse that leads to death. How about the epidemic use of chemicals to control behavior? What about the exponential increases in screen time (TV and/or computer)for younger and younger children? How about Common Core? Why do parents do these things/allow these things to be done to their children? Because it's HARD WORK to raise children. Most folks don't have a clue about hard work and sacrifice--and if someone cries foul, I dare them to put their 'sacrifice' next to that of my in-laws or others who raised children through the depression. Suffering in America is not being able to go to the first release movie and having to settle for the matinee.

What will stop this trend? Support for strong marriages in the form of authentic Pre-Cana prep; solid CATHOLIC education from grade school through university--if "Catholic" is in the name the school must teach and uphold doctrine; that same education affordable; family catechisis at every parish--not just for the kids.

It would be nice to say that overturning abortion laws, eliminating contraception and banning 'gay marriage' would fix all this but that is not going to happen. None of the societal atrocities are going to change unless families are taken seriously and children are raised that abortion is wrong, contraception is wrong and 'gay marriage' is not even a possibility. The church must lead here. AND the church must be prepared to accept that ONLY A FEW WILL FOLLOW.
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written by Fr. Bevil Bramwell OMI, May 22, 2014
Appreciate it Beth!
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written by Mr. Levy, May 22, 2014
Well said, Beth, and my wife and I agree fully.

Thank you again, Fr. Bramwell, for your truthful article. We are desperately short on such reporting on reality.

Rarely recognized today, and even more rarely spoken, is the daily child sacrifice demanded by the triple idols of the left - feminism, sexual "liberation," and socialism (especially the replacement of family and community with bureaucrats). According to the cult of these bloodthirsty idols, the immediate gratification of the individual adult is paramount. Any other obligation, above all the obligation to children (which is the most dangerous to the leftist project because it is the most natural and universal), must be scorned.
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written by ron a., May 23, 2014
Father---"Would anyone care to say something against violence against kids?" We're against it!

Underlying the violence, in whichever form it takes, are individual values and practical freedoms and, on a larger scale, cultural mores, of which freedom and privacy have become paramount. And, this creates the setting in which violence occurs.

In the secular world the main drivers of value and behavior are, in my opinion, Madison Avenue (bombardment of advertising and materialism), the Academy (freedom to believe and value anything you want--even in Catholic institutes) and the Entertainment Industry (Gehenna personified). Each of these has increased, exponentially, its influence over the American mind in the past 40-50 years. And none of these, again in my opinion, fosters the slightest mindset that supports children and family and, by extension, a child's protection against violence. What is promoted is the cult of the 'secular humanist'. The glorification of 'rights', with little or no mention of 'responsibility'. A toxic Culture. The by-product of a growing secularism is a gradual separation from God.

So with a coupled breakdown of family and a turning away from God, is it a surprise that there is this insidious violence occurring? I think not.

Into the moral morass should step the Church---with guidance and support. But, to be honest, all I see, in this regard, is confusion! (Just what the Evil One seeks.) Unquestionably, for many years now, the Church has been clearly divided. Those who have accepted this fact--as a way of life--euphemistically refer to it as the "two wings" of the Church. I see it as Jesus (Mk 3:25) saw it: "And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand."

It's bad enough that we're divided against other Christian denominations; but, to be divided within...;it will, ultimately, have devastating effects. (The Catholic Church should not be a debating club!) We are witnessing an expression of that divide where, in important matters that EFFECT FAMILY AND CHILDREN, the American bishops talk and talk, yet fail to act. I cite just two examples: Communion to scandalizing politicians and 'watered-down' homilies. (For many of the young, MTV has more influence on value formation than the parish priest.) For many of the laity, this moral failure to act, gridlock, is not only confusing, but it is demoralizing. One might almost get the feeling that many of the bishops really don't believe what they are saying, but just biding time (perhaps waiting for a changed generation). Well, if that's the case, that lack of transparency is not 'pastoral', it's DISHONEST!

Another offshoot of this division in the Church (especially the larger Church) is that any "Catholic" can now 'bishop hunt' and find any number of supporters for abortion (of course only under special pastoral circumstances--think Lambeth Conference and contraception), contraception and gay marriage and skip along with a clear conscience. What, then, happens to Family and, ultimately, child welfare?

Furthermore, have pastoral care and ecumenism (two concepts that all the bishops seem to agree on) paralyzed the leaders of our Church when it comes to personal morality, a topic seldom discussed? It's easier to talk about 'social justice', than 'sin'? But then bad things happen---like child abuse. Did CHRIST "go along" to "get along"? No! "[He was]...a stumbling block to the Jews, foolishness to the Greeks". The absurdity of it all!

The 'morass'? Well, it would seem that the secular world is winning the battle for the 'hearts and minds', dare I say 'souls'?, of an ever growing number. And without much of a fight....

Leadership? Courage? Where are they? When we discarded the responsibility to exist as 'Church Militant', I believe, we lost much more than we ever gained; and, our children are paying for it in many ways--most importantly, SPIRITUALLY.
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written by Fr. Bevil Bramwell OMI, May 23, 2014
Could not say it better myself Ron. Thanks.

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