|Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House
- combating child abuse, supporting victims -
|| Letter to Speaker Paul Ryan
about bipartisan effort to combat child abuse
by Bill Murray, NAASCA
Last week Speaker of the House Paul Ryan lead off his regular gaggle for reporters with an announcement that caught my attention.
The first item on business was wonderful news to a NAASCA family member's ear:
Speaker Ryan said, “Today, the House is taking up bipartisan action to combat child abuse and exploitation. A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in this country. And human trafficking is one of the world's fastest-growing crimes."
That got my attention. After all, the Speaker is the one who sets the agenda and decides which issues come to the floor to be considered in the United States House of Representatives.
He went on, “While worrying comes naturally for parents, it is staggering to consider the different forms that child exploitation can take. It could be a coach or someone close to you, or it could be a total stranger on social media acting alone as part of a global operation."
I sat up straight.
Ryan, third in line for the Presidency, concluded the presser with a mention of the upcoming Memorial Day, and about how we all needed to honor America's veterans.
And then he concluded with, “Together, Republicans and Democrats are taking action to protect the most vulnerable and to punish those who abuse them. With these initiatives, we will go after child sex offenders, and we will make sure that survivors have the highest protection under the law."
And then the reporters started in ..
All their questions for the Speaker were related to President Trump's recent trip overseas, to investigations into possible Russian tampering into the 2016 elections and to any collusion by administration officials or associates.
There wasn't one hint of interest into the lead issue in Speaker Ryan's presentation .. that a bipartisan effort had been launched to 'combat child abuse' and to protect survivors.
Still, I was hopeful I could find materials related to their cooperative work. For years I'd argued that the Federal government needs to take a lead role in prevention, intervention and recovery, gathering together in a coordinated way the work and best practices of the many various Federal, state, local and non profit efforts from across the country.
In my vision there should be created, for lack of a better name, a 'Department of Children's Security'
to accomplish this, in much the same way the sharing of information made a big difference in keeping us safe when the 'Department of Homeland Security' was established after the attacks of 9-11, 2001.
Frankly, a big part of why we launched NAASCA a decade ago was to fill this role, bringing together under one roof all the disparate government, law enforcement and academic resources, and examples of all the non profit / activist / professional best
practices we could.
Undeterred, I searched for references to the project Ryan had described over the next couple of days, but I could find nothing specifically related to the House's announced 'bipartisan action'.
So I decided to write to Speaker Ryan, to get info straight from the horse's mouth:
Subject: Speaker Paul Ryan - www.speaker.gov
from Bill Murray - NAASCA.org - "Stop Child Abuse Now" talk show
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
Dear Speaker Ryan:
I am the founder of NAASCA, the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA.org), a 501(c)3 that addresses the issues of child abuse and trauma.
I was heartened by your reference in your May 26th press conference where you announced a 'bipartisan action to combat child abuse and exploitation' .. but disheartened that no one in the press pool cared enough to even ask a question about it.
We're building a community of child abuse survivors, activists and professionals who believe that together we can do what we can not so alone.
Among our common issues is a desire to have the Federal government make this pandemic problem a priority, and to teach the community at large just how costly it is to turn our backs on currently abused kids and on traumatized, still-suffering adult survivors.
The public needs to be educated to the fact that (conservatively speaking) 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys WILL BE sexually assaulted before they turn 18 years old. At least 45 million American adults suffer from issues of child abuse and trauma.
Your office has an opportunity to set a tone that can help raise up this topic to the place it deserves. Until we break through the denial, we'll go right on sacrificing our greatest treasure, America's youth, at an alarming rate.
I am seeking information about how we can help you as you address child abuse and trafficking of kids. I'd like to see whatever materials are being considered by the House.
More than that, I want to offer you my help. As the spokesman for NAASCA, I represent many thousands of American adult survivors of child abuse (and thousands of non-Americans, too) who wish to be a part of the solution.
You'll find our web site is FULL of programs, tools, services and resources that we've developed over the last decade and more. All we do is FREE (we receive no funding and are self-supporting through our own contributions), and is offered through the participation of an all volunteer and non-paid group of active NAASCA family members.
Please do not hesitate to call or contact me at any time .. if I can help in any way ..
Yours in gratitude and service,
323 / 552-6150
Adult Survivor web site:
Talk Show home page:
There's been no reply.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Our issues fall on deaf ears, even when the person who's 3 heartbeats away from the Presidency (after the President and the Vice-president) announces a bipartisan effort to combat child abuse from one of the loudest bully-pulpits in the country, and expresses the topic clearly, succinctly.
Our society would rather pay attention to almost anything else .. ranging from probes into Russian 'false media' 2016 election meddling or the President's latest Tweet.
I have addressed
this fact many times. Last year I repeatedly said that if one were to ask Americans to list the 20 most important issues to consider for the election that nothing about child abuse would appear. It probably wouldn't appear in the top 50.
Each day NAASCA carries a 'Daily Digest' of news that's related to the topics of child abuse and trauma, and every Sunday night we collect the 7 days' articles together (dozens of them) to use as material for our Sunday evening OPEN MIKE discussion episodes of the "Stop Child Abuse Now" talk radio shows.
This past week we'd shared about several things that were directly on point to Speaker Paul Ryan's announcement.
Among them was a powerful OPINION piece from Michael Reagan, President Ronald Reagan's son, who spoke with eloquence of his own experience of abuse as a child and clearly laid out many of the facts and statistics related to childhood trauma. He entitled his offering 'Child abuse -- a subject that deserves more attention.' And he was right. Among other things, Michael pointed out that in 2015 about 700,000 American children were victims of child abuse, and that each predator will sexually abuse 117 kids in their lifetime.
Another article we discussed addressed helping victims of childhood trafficking. It came from a relatively lightly populated and largely agricultural county north of Los Angeles, yet bemoaned the fact that "Over the course of 30 days there could be up to 750 victims working the streets or being sold online here in Kern County." Furthermore it stated that half the human beings being trafficked in the United States are branded, marked like cattle, stripped of their integrity and filled with hopelessness.
Yet another topic came from an article from the FBI.
It spoke of how the FBI plays a role in helping to find "Missing Kids." Among other things, last year the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) said there were an astonishing 465,676 reports of missing children. While many of the missing are eventually accounted for, many kids will remain missing.
I'd personally like to know that number, perhaps calculated after remaining in the data base over a 5 or 10 year period.
These children I'd describe as "Vanished Kids' and I'm sure the number would be astonishing.
Now a politician can have several motives to announce a position on issues of child abuse. After all it's a safe thing to say, "I care,' but do nothing else. There's little risk here, since so few in the community will actually press for significant action on such a feel-good mention of what NAASCA members know is a pandemic (and world-wide) problem.
That's because the community-at-large doesn't want to address these things itself. It's a taboo topic for most of us. We're in denial, and we'd rather believe we can turn away from such ugly, frightening issues. We mostly feel it 'doesn't effect us, our family, our neighborhood.' In any case, we believe 'others' are dealing with the plight of abused children for us.
The survivor community can play a much more significant role in moving our politicians off the dime. We need to engage them, and every individual who writes an email or sends a snail-mail letter goes a long way to raising the bar. That's because political folk know that for every missive they receive there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of other constituents / voters who care about these same issues, but won't bother
And politicians start to care when thousands of votes are at stake.
There are numerous topics behind which we almost all can rally. The teaching of prevention info to kids in school systems, the elimination of often draconian Statues of Limitations, the establishing of a National data base (easily shared across all jurisdictions) that would clearly identify registered sex offenders, the creation of a one-stop Federal web site where ALL best practices and resources could be linked, etc, etc.
The list goes on.
Unless and until we collectively insist politicians and their leadership, like a Paul Ryan, pay attention to the needs of hundreds of thousands of America's children each year, and offer solutions to the pandemic yet frequently hidden problems related to the child abuse and trauma facing our communities, we will not make significant progress.
Our children are the treasure of our country, and we need to invest in them.
Please .. in this instance, no matter where you live, take a moment to write to Speaker Paul Ryan at the web site below. He's in a National leadership position where he can make a difference .. if he chooses to do so.
His very job is to set the agenda for the House of Representatives.
Simply go to
www.speaker.gov/contact to use the 'Speak Out' - email form to communicate with him.
Every single email matters, and NAASCA thanks you in advance for all you do in the fight against child abuse and trauma.
Together we can do what we can not do alone.
Yours in service,
Bill Murray, NAASCA
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan
(use the 'Speak Out' email form to communicate with the Speaker)
OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-0600