‘Child-Abuse Bandwagon’

I would like to take issue with Michael Kinsley’s article (Editorial Pages, April 30), “Hug-Hungry Grown-ups Stumble Under the Child-Abuse Bandwagon.” The essay is a mixture of misinformation, half-truths and distortions.

1--The child-abuse problem is not just “fashionable social pathology.” Child abuse is real and widespread. This statement is supported strongly in the scientific literature.

2--There is to date no evidence of any developing “witch hunt” in the sexual-abuse field. The only point that has been made is that our courts and legal system are not in tune with the developmental capabilities of children. All the scientific evidence supports the fact that children are being sexually abused and that this is not fantasy and distortion. Young children are not capable of “imagining” many of the histories they give and we have physical proof of many of their statements.

3--Kinsley states that “the (child-abuse fever) furnace is being stoked by grown-ups for reasons having nothing to do with the welfare of children.” This is untrue and is an insult to the thousands and thousands of professionals like myself who have spent most of their careers working with and for children.


4--Kinsley’s statement that the Childrens Caucus in the U.S. Senate was established on a “ludicrous premise” shows lack of knowledge of the position of children in our society.

5--The author’s statement that it (child abuse) is “not a systemic problem like unemployment, public education or national defense” shows a lack of understanding of the depth and breadth of the problem. We give lip service to the idea that children are our most important national resource, but we allow them to be abused in many ways and have never developed a collective commitment to them as we have to elderly.

I could argue with other less basic statements in the paper but I have restricted myself to five key issues.



Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics

University of Southern California

School of Medicine