Dear Global Board Members of Hedge Funds Care,

Several of you have contacted me about the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson news coverage.  Both of these cases are complicated.  I think it unfortunate that both have garnered such one dimensional reactions in the press, likely a result of fame and media attention. Is this bad?  Only if we think that the issue of abuse is simple and solely confined to the NFL.

What’s so complicated about the Rice case? A video tape shows him beating Janey, his then fiancée, in an elevator.  Any physical abuse of another is wrong.  But Janey refused to press charges, married him, and has asked that the NFL not penalize him. As an adult she has the right to make the choices that affect her life. When I worked with battered women they often made choices that I would not have made for them.  But some knew that if charges were pressed then the family would be destroyed by the court process.  Some knew that if he lost his job, and his self-esteem along with it, he would never recover.  And in the short run, for some, the violence perpetrated against her would become even worse because now he blamed her for his actions being exposed.  Any of these could be factors in the Rice case and in Janey’s decision.  Or, she could just love him and want and hope that it can all be made better over time; a very simplistic, but very fraught, reaction that has to be taken into consideration.

What’s so complicated about the Peterson case? He beat his four year old son with a switch until the child had bloody welts.  Even the least knowledgeable child welfare person knows that there is a difference between discipline and abuse at the point one draws blood.  And what do we as a society think about physical discipline?  It is unbelievable to me that 65% of Americans in 2014 approve of it. The hopeful news is that in 1986 the number was 85%. At least our attitudes are moving in the right direction. However, to complicate any conversation about physical discipline are the widely held stereotypes based on race and culture espoused by many Americans.  It makes reasonable discourse on the subject almost impossible.

We, thankfully, have a clear mission: prevent and treat child abuse. We had it before Rice and Peterson and we will have it after. But what should we as an organization do now? 

  • We are sending a letter to NFL Commissioner Goodell supporting the changes in the NFL’s code of conduct to affirmatively include interpersonal non-violence and consequences for infractions.
  • We are also letting him know that violence against women and children is a societal issue not just a problem in the NFL and inviting him to be part of the message that this behavior is unacceptable wherever and whenever it occurs. 
  • We are asking our Branches and Affiliates, through their Grants Committees, to reach out to local sports teams and offer, through our grantees and Academic Consultants, whatever support is necessary to ensure that all children and families live in a caring and violence-free environment.

And we are open to any other suggestions you might have, so send them along to me.

Every few months I sign up for Google Alerts: Child Abuse. And every couple of months I stop them because they become overwhelming.  Here are some alerts I got this week and last:

  • Denver – a man arrested for breaking his 3 month old child’s femur
  • Minneapolis – a 4 year old died as a result of violence at the hands of his parents
  • Vermont – 2 toddlers were killed by their parent’s even while being supervised by the state’s child welfare agency
  • Boston – a woman was arrested for concealing the deaths of her children from abuse and neglect.
  • UK – Rotherham councilors admit hiding child sexual exploitation cases for years

The Rice and Peterson cases are mega reminders of the issue that we have chosen to address.  But incidents happen every day, in every city, in every country; just sign up for Google Alerts. That is why we have to be active every day by funding the programs that provide shelter to battered women and their children who are effected by the violence; by supporting programs that teach children that if they are abused there is help; by aiding those projects that instruct parents how to safely and caringly discipline their children; by making grants to those program that help the children harmed by abuse to heal.

And that is why there is Help For Children/Hedge Funds Care.  And that is why you are involved.

Thank you so much.

 

Kathryn

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