A tidal wave is about to hit politicians and candidates across the country, but my guess is they have no idea it is coming. It is certainly not a topic that has yet been raised during any of the presidential debates.
This crashing wave is going to be generated by the motion picture Spotlight, which is about the cover up of child sex abuse by priests in the Boston Archdiocese.
Where is this political pressure going to come from? The millions of child sex abuse victims whose abuse has been kept silent because adults like Cardinal Bernard Law turned the other way. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused. Thus, the many who have been sexually abused, trafficked, and/or trapped into pornography as children will have their cause legitimated and will see that it is possible and heroic to stand up to even the most holy of adults if they allowed the abuse to happen.
This motion picture will stir up emotions and memories like no other, as it makes heroes of those Boston Globe reporters and editors who identified the archvillains of child sex abuse. The message will translate for all survivors, though, whether they were abused by their father, teacher, rabbi, or coach, and they will all vicariously see their perpetrators and enabling institutions (whether family, school, sport, or religious) unmasked for what they are. The truth has that effect.
These silent survivors need this movie, but they need even more elected officials and society’s leaders to change our legal, social, and political culture of child endangerment. Adults prefer and protect adults—in every setting—and kids suffer.
The proof is in the presidential candidates’ debates to date, and the recent platforms of the political parties—a vast black hole on this issue. Even so, sexual abuse, trafficking, and pornography cost our society billions in emotionally disabled individuals, higher rates of addiction and suicide, and a failure of talented people to be able to live up to their potential.
The parties have passionate positions on unborn children, but where are their positions on stemming the epidemic of living child sex abuse, trafficking, and pornography? And don’t tell me they “oppose” these social evils, because their silent opposition is not even worth two cents. What are their plans to improve our children’s and our grandchildren’s safety? Will they stand up to the powerful entities that wallow in the status quo that traps defenseless children in unimaginable horror—the churches, teachers’ unions, insurance companies, and defense bar?
Will they appoint an Attorney General who puts ending this epidemic at the top of the law enforcement priority list? Will they appoint federal judges who favor religious groups over child protection, and unborn children over those who are alive and suffering, or vice versa? Will they give victims a voice through legislative reforms or will they bow to the Catholic bishops who demand a “right” not to be sued by the victims they created because they operate Catholic Charities with taxpayers funding the vast majority of their charitable activities?
For the next Republican and Democrat debate, a moderator should ask: “Which is more important for the future of our country, dealing with the ‘war on Christmas’ or the sex abuse of children in churches, schools, and homes?” After they have seen Spotlight, millions of mobilized voters will care about their answer.