By Eileen Mathy
My own parents were decent people as most parents are. They believed in minimal supervision and room for children to create, to play and explore. It would seem to be an ideal way to grow up and yet it left us vulnerable to people who prey on children. And thus abuse happens.
As a foster/adoptive mother for many years I have seen the lasting impact of abuse on children. Scars of abandonment, invalidation and trauma can be seen in their battles as adults to adjust to the demands of relationships and daily living.
I knew a young boy who lived with foster parents in the home next to ours: a delightful kid. He was provided structure, guidance and care by the older couple he came to trust as mom and dad. Recently I read that he worked in a school in our community and was arrested for sexual assault of one of the students in his care. My heart sunk as I witnessed the destruction of two lives, through what is now an alleged pattern of abuse.
In the state of Illinois, drastic budgetary cuts threaten the survival of institutions and social welfare programs. What can we do to insure that children remain a priority to our lawmakers? Some can rally. Others can promote awareness. But I would encourage all of us to keep our eyes and ears open to the children we know. In all my years of caring for children, I have found that validation is a powerful tool to promote healing. Saying “I see that you are hurt. Tell me about that. I believe you and I will get you help,” can anchor a child in the belief that they are visible, they matter and they can trust that someone in the world cares.