Saturday, December 29, 2007

Excuses or Reasons

On my post, Mass Murders Close to Home Lynn from Spilling Ink in Public made a comment that started off I think that the only way for it to end is for people to simultaneously take seriously the complaints these people have against their families while speaking out against the killings. I have to admit that my first reaction to this was to bristle up and get defensive. Probably because this particular crime happened so close to home. But I backed up and took my time and really tried to understand what Lynn was saying. There are things in what she said that have merit.

If more people were listened to and had someplace to be taken seriously, perhaps there would be less violence. For all the big talk in this country, we really have not made many inroads toward the compassionate acceptance of the complaints of young people, ESPECIALLY when those complaints are against family members.

I do believe that victims need to be supported and listened to. If we, as a society, paid more attentions to victims and their treatment, there would likely be less trouble in the world.

Personally, I think that abuse among family members is accepted much more today within law enforcement than it ever has been. However, the social services and the schools seem to not see what is right in front of them sometimes.

But even when abuse is seen the response withing families can leave much to be desired. I'm not so sure that such claims within the family structure have changed all that much over the years.

I know there are mothers and fathers who do hear their children's claims of abuse but there are still many others that don't. Abuse is being reported more than ever before but that doesn't mean that it is being reported and successfully dealt with anywhere near the extent to which it is occurring.

The pressure within families to not rock the boat still is the driving force in most families where abuse occurs. Victims recant their stories because of the pressure applied within their families. Those victims find it easier to keep quiet and take the abuse than deal with the entire family turning against them. We need to find a way to address these issues.

All of these things may be true but they don't change the circumstances of this particular crime and others like it, there is NO excuse for such behavior. Just as casey stated in the comments Many of us have suffered and overcome terrible abuse in our lives...and yet we have not struck out at anyone..not even the perpetrators.

This was a cold blooded killing of 6 matter how the press chooses to portray it.

In the dictionary there is a big difference between excuses and reasons.

By definition the noun excuse: a reason (sometimes false) for an action. Examples of excuse:
Failures always come up with a lot of excuses to explain why they can't succeed in life.

By definition the noun reason: cause; basis for action

Notice that there is no such example for reason. The reason behind people's actions, whatever it might be, does not always lead to failure. However, those who function always making excuses for their actions, many times end up as failures.

By definition the verb excuse: to forgive entirely or disregard as of trivial import

When the day comes that we as a society excuse (verb) people for crimes based on excuses (noun) of abuse. we will be in real trouble.The crime that was committed must never lose weight based on any kind of excuse because abuse does not justify murder or more abuse for that matter.

Our jails would be empty if abuse was a valid reason to excuse someone from their behavior. That would not make those people happy or guarantee they would not continue their lawless ways. The world would be pretty chaotic.

Granted the jails are full of angry people and some of those might have taken different roads had they never encountered abuse. However, it was still a conscious choice that they made to break the law. If we are to have any hopes of being a lawful society, people must be accountable for their behavior.


Lynn said...

Hi, RR. I worried after I left that comment that people could misunderstand. I'm glad you didn't. Knowing how violence is created is not the same thing as condoning it. Violence against children creates violent adults and the pattern needs to be interrupted everywhere possible. And yes, it does appear that the secrecy in families is the last (but most defended) frontier in this fight. I have read different statistics in different places. It seems that 70% - 90% of sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members and 10% to 40% of people suffer some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. These numbers alone are staggering. I don't recall all of the figures I have encountered for other kinds of abuse, but depending on one's definition of abuse, some believe the figures to possibly be as high as 90% of the population having suffered some form of abuse in their childhoods and that the majority of the abuse is perpetrated by family members, parents and various caregivers. This is both sad and very, very dangerous. It is a huge societal problem and the secrecy in families seems to block the way of real help for many of those who suffer. I wish this would be taken seriously and addressed on a national and world-wide level in some way that does not smell of 'Big Brother'. Until that day comes -- I'm scared just like you are. I also come from a dysfunctional family and have four violent brothers. Some of them are unstable and this is worrisome. They don't much care for me because I have no problem calling a spade a spade. I don't participate in the family lie-a-thons and I am not into 'ancestor worship'.

I hope we can all make it a priority to act to nurture and protect children in whatever way we can as individuals. I know there are a lot of batterers and pedos out there, but those of us who do not abuse have influence, too. If we use it to accept and validate the reality of the children we come in contact with, we can change the future of humankind. Maybe for every half-dozen or so of us, there will be a few less people who grow up to lose it and go clocktowering and a few more people who get help earlier in their lives than they otherwise would have.

Fallen Angels said...

I have a few thoughts about the last two posts. The first is that there are many in the psychological community that feel sociopaths are beyond help. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but even if it's not true, the psych. professionals believe it is which makes any chance of helping these people impossible.

Abuse definitely is being reported now more than ever but I know that in my state at least, there are problems with that. My state believes in "famil reunification". If the family has been separated, then every effort must be made to get it back together...and if it has not been separated, then every effort must be made to keep it together. For example, unless there is clear evidence of immediate, lifethreatening abuse (such as what may be reported by an ER physician or nurse), then the wheels move very, very slowly. A social worker will go to the house and investigate. Then leave...leaving children in the home...and present the case to other social workers and start looking for ways to help the family. It's great to look for ways to help...but what is happening to those children after the social worker leaves?

As for the schools...they sometimes make me very angry. Last year my nephews school reported my brother for abuse because my oldest nephew had "black eyes" at school one day. When the social worker came to talk to him (nephew) the next day, the black eyes were gone. This was because the dark area around his eyes was due to the fact that he hadn't slept well the night before! The social worker had to do a full investigation though, because the school reported it. The case was dismissed right away but my brother was devistated. He has worked very hard within himself to not repeat patterns and this really upset him. I have been to my nephews school on special occasions and have seen other children that to me clearly show signs of abuse and I wonder if the school ever reported it... or did they just report my brother because of stereotyping. "uh oh, the poor kid looks like he has black eyes, he must be getting abused".

As for the people in prison...I think there are a few (very few) cases where perhaps past abuse was a valid reason. For example, a juvenile dependant or spouse of an abuser who kills the abuser in the moment, while abuse is taking place...then it becomes self-defense. That is the ONLY time I feel it may be justified...and *may* is an important qualifier in that sentence!

Kahless said...

Very interesting discussion and I have enjoyed reading the post and comments.

April_optimist said...

Whenever something like this happens there's shock and a desire to find answers. A hope that it will turn out that there were "special circumstances" so one can believe: It won't happen to ME. I think that's why reporters try to find some excuse.

What a tragedy this was.

Kahless said...

Hi RR,
hope you are well and 2008 brings you loads of joy.