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The children were beaten, raped and trafficked.
Conservative estimates put the number of underage victims at about 1,400.
A recently-released report published by an independent auditor describes what happened in Rotherham, England – and it is a difficult read.
It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered. They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated. There were examples of children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone. Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators.
Even more shocking, many of the officials charged with protecting these victims looked the other way, allowing the evil to continue largely unchecked for 16 years.
The reason for the silence?
The New York Times sums it up this way:
“The victims identified in the report were all white, while the perpetrators were mostly of Pakistani heritage.”
Even the chief crown prosecutor in charge of sexual violence – himself of Pakistani heritage – said, “There is no getting away from the fact that there are Pakistani gangs grooming vulnerable girls.”
Some local officials were hesitant to identify the “ethnic origins” of the perpetrators because they feared being labeled racist. And those who dared mention race? They were punished. The London Telegraph reports a researcher who drafted a 2001 report on the happenings was told to “never, ever”’ again refer to the race or ethnicity of the suspected abusers
She was later sent to an “ethnicity and diversity course.”
The sad irony in the media’s reporting
Yet, as journalists attempt to shed light on the role political correctness played in enabling gang rape and child abuse, many are also contributing to it.
The otherwise strong piece was missing one word: Muslim.
A commentary in Forbes suspects the problem is social workers (and apparently, journalists) will not risk being accused of “the new crime of ‘Islamophobia.’”
But how can we combat a problem as serious as widespread sexual exploitation of children if we can’t even properly identify those who are behind it?
Expose the evil
We need to get to a point in the culture where the safety of the innocent trump the sensitivities of those in power. After all, at its worst political correctness hurts real people and is destroying the lives of innocent children.
Simply reporting the fact that the men perpetrating the crimes were of Muslim background doesn’t imply that all Islamic men are sexual predators.
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Many of you commented on and shared my recent blog post, “Could Robin Williams’ Faith Have Prevented His Suicide?”
That’s not surprising because mental illness directly impacts about one in four individuals… yet sadly, it sometimes seems that the Christian community doesn’t talk about the issue as often and as thoroughly we should.
Focus on the Family is hoping to help change that by helping families and churches better understand topics related to mental health – things like depression, bipolar and schizophrenia.
A deeper look at mental health and faith
We recently partnered with LifeWay Research on the groundbreaking “Study of Acute Mental Illness and Christian Faith.” Through interviews with pastors and Christian individuals diagnosed with acute mental illness, we were able to gain insight into what people suffering from these conditions experience during their faith journey.
Here are just a few of our findings:
- Impacted individuals and their families deal with a significant amount of shame and social stigma.
- Many assume the person has “done” something to cause the illness.
- There are too many parents whose children suffer from mental illness that deal with denial and grief.
- We also learned that, in most cases, the illness needs stabilizing before spiritual growth will take place – but on the other hand, strong faith does not make a mental illness go away.
Equipping churches and families
As we examined the church’s response to mental health issues, we saw that while many churches are providing good support to families, there is much more left to do. As believers, we have an incredible opportunity we have to minister to men, women and children impacted by mental illness.
The good news is a majority of pastors (56 percent) strongly agree local churches have a responsibility to support both individuals with mental illness and their families.
In order to help pastors help these families, Focus’ Thriving Pastor outreach is offering a free e-book, “Serving Those with Mental Illness.” This resource provides church leaders with a summary of the LifeWay Research/Mental Health Study. It also provides an overview of three ways pastors will most likely encounter people with mental illness – and offers guidelines to help them handle each scenario. Finally, the booklet helps pastors identify mental illness and make effective referrals for Christian counseling. You can learn more by visiting http://www.thrivingpastor.com/mentalhealth/.
And of course, if you or a family member are in need of counseling, I hope you’ll consider calling us. Focus has licensed counselors ready to listen and provide initial guidance and resources. You can arrange to speak with one of our counselors at no cost by calling us at 1-855-771-4357.
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It seems like, more and more, the use of spanking as a form of child discipline is being questioned by parents. Focus on the Family recently had an opportunity to address the issue in TIME Ideas. Dr. Jared Pingleton, the director for our counseling department, wrote the piece. –JD
NFL running back Adrian Peterson’s recent arrest for allegedly abusing his four-year-old son has once again sparked the debate over whether spanking is an appropriate form of discipline. Though some contend any form of physical correction equates to child abuse, there is a giant chasm between a mild spanking properly administered out of love and an out-of-control adult venting their emotions by physically abusing a child.
At Focus on the Family we believe that parents have been entrusted with the incredible privilege and responsibility of shaping their children’s behavior in a positive direction. Unfortunately, each of us enters this world with desires that are selfish, unkind, and harmful to others and ourselves. Spanking, then, can be one effective discipline option among several in a parents’ tool chest as they seek to steer their children away from negative behaviors and guide them toward ultimately becoming responsible, healthy, happy adults.
It is vital, however, that spanking be administered within proper guidelines. The reports about the punishment meted out by Peterson to his son, and the consequent injuries his son suffered, indicate his behavior on that occasion was far outside those boundaries. These kinds of experiences are why this whole issue is fraught with controversy – a child should never be abused.
Properly understood and administered, spanking is most effective as a deterrent to undesirable behavior for younger preschoolers (but never for infants). That’s because reasoning and taking away privileges often simply don’t work with kids in that age range. As children age, spanking should become even less frequent as other types of consequences are utilized. Spanking should be phased out completely before adolescence.
Generally speaking, we advise parents that corporal discipline should only be applied in cases of willful disobedience or defiance of authority—never for mere childish irresponsibility. And it should never be administered harshly, impulsively, or with the potential to cause physical harm. Along those lines, we caution parents who have a hard time controlling their temper to choose alternative forms of discipline. There is never an excuse or an occasion to abuse a child.
For parents who do choose to spank, the proper philosophy and approach is extremely important. Too begin with, as with all forms of correction, the concepts of punishment and discipline are absolute opposites. Punishment is motivated by anger, focuses on the past, and results in either compliance (due to fear) or rebellion and feelings of shame, guilt and/or hostility. On the other hand, discipline is motivated by love for the child, focuses on the future, and results in obedience and feelings of security.
This is because the term discipline derives from the root word “disciple” which means “to teach.” Parents have an ongoing opportunity and responsibility to teach our children how to love well and live life as effectively and healthfully as possible. What we want children to understand is that the gentle sting of a spanking is connected to the greater and often long-term pain of harmful choices. Simply put, prevention is easier than cure.
A child should always receive a clear warning before any offense that might merit a spanking and understand why they are receiving this disciplinary action. If he or she deliberately disobeys, the child should be informed of the upcoming spanking and escorted to a private area. The spanking should be lovingly administered in a clear and consistent manner. Afterward, the lesson should be gently reiterated so that the child understands and learns from this teachable experience.
Many parents today view themselves primarily as their child’s friend and recoil at the idea of administering discipline. Children, though, desperately need their parents’ love and affirmation as well as their authoritative guidance and correction. Disciplining our sons and daughters is part of the tough work of parenting, but it will pay big dividends in the long run.
The author of the Bible’s book of Hebrews writes, “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11, HCSB). So spanking, when used judiciously, appropriately, and in combination with other disciplinary techniques, can be a helpful part of training our children.
Let me offer a final word on the national tragedy of child abuse. I oversee Focus on the Family’s counseling department, and my colleagues and I deal with the fallout from those who were abused as children on a daily basis. The pain from these horrific memories lingers with many of these individuals for a lifetime. Abusing a vulnerable child is always, and extremely, damaging and wrong.
That’s why my heart goes out to Adrian Peterson’s young son. Peterson has apologized for his behavior and expressed his desire to be a good father to his son, to, in his words, “teach my son right from wrong.” I earnestly hope he has learned from this serious mistake, and I wish him well in his desire to be a good father.
Parenting is a hard job. None of us do it perfectly. And to make it even more challenging, none of our kids come with an instruction manual attached. But our children need us to do it to the best of our ability, with all the wisdom, love, gentleness and strength we can muster. We won’t go wrong if we exercise a firm and consistent hand with a soft and loving heart.
Dr. Jared Pingleton is a clinical psychologist and minister and serves as the director for Focus on the Family’s counseling department. In this role, he provides leadership for the 13 licensed mental health professionals and two ordained chaplains who offer guidance and resources to people facing a variety of circumstances.