Violence against Children in the Native American Community

by hunter_c on March 30, 2016 - 4:45pm

In an article published on November 18th, 2014  by ThinkProgess.org written by Tara Culp-Ressler entitled, “The Shocking Rates Of Violence And Abuse Facing Native American Kids” sheds light on the horrifying abuse that affects children on Native American tribal reserves. The author reports that these children’s lives are being “destroyed by relentless violence and trauma.” The abuse and trauma has resulted in these children experiencing PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Even more disturbingly, they’re experiencing this disorder at the same rate as US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, and their chances of dying before the age of 24 is doubled that of other races. These children are exposed to high rates of homelessness in their community, drug abuse, sexual abuse, violence and suicide. A reason why abuse is so high in these communities is because there is a law dating back to 1978 which prevents tribes from prosecuting offenders that don’t live on the reserve. More specifically, there is a high rate of sex offenders that are non-Native that get away with these crimes because of this law implemented in 1978.

Fortunately, the law has begun to change with an extended version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in which women now have the right to prosecute abusers who don’t live on tribal land. Although this is a step forward for women, this act does not extend itself to children, leaving them just as vulnerable as before. There have been several recommendations regarding this issue, it’s just up to the Department of Justice to implement these recommendations to protect innocent children. There is the possible issue of political controversy, but as the author points out, there are “lives are at stake.” Perhaps an act similar to the VAWA but focused on children would be the saving grace of this generation.

Read more about this story here:

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/11/18/3593300/violence-native-american-kids/

 

Resources:

Culp-Ressler, Tara. "The Shocking Rates Of Violence And Abuse Facing Native American Kids." ThinkProgress RSS. 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 

Comments

I totally agree with you on the fact that children are ofter poorly treated in different country because they are seen as weak. Children are also often abused because they are the easiest prey and they have no way of defense against the abuser. It is important to realize that everybody deserves to live a normal and happy childhood to well manage their life after. If not, they could end up having some psychological problems such as the PTSD that you mention in your post. I strongly recomment you to read the summary that I wrote about working conditions and how some people can be treated in different country. Unfortunately, I realized that it is mostly children who works in bad conditions because they are seen as an easy way to get income.

link to my article: http://www.newsactivist.com/en/news-summary/champlain-college-2016-newsa...

I agree with you, the extent of the abuse that Native American Children have to face is truly horrifying, and it is even worse since it does not seem like it is in the government’s immediate plan to address this. The diversity of your facts allows us to observe the situation from different angles, all of which are very important if we want things to change for these children. Nevertheless, I wonder if the solution truly lies within a new law… Personally I think that since the real problem behind the horrendous amount of abuses made toward Native Children is embedded in the way society constructs our minds, we should aim higher and directly attempt to change the way we educate our children. You do mention that women have made a step forward, but when we look at statistics, the amount of abuses in this category is still incredibly high and shouldn’t be. Statistically, the major part of assaults in native communities is committed by men. Often, this results from the strict restrictions traditional hegemonic masculinity imposes on men, since it dictates how they should dominate and be more powerful than anybody else, unfortunately generally at any price, including assaulting children, women and other men to prove their superiority. If we could tame the principles of this close minded type of masculinity, and transmit these to our children, implicitly society in general would grow with a much more respectful base. There is already a movement that started all around the world, called “New Fatherhood”, which brings a new way of educating children based on the active implication of both parents. I believe this is a serious path to explore, and as it would expand, I think it has the ability to reduce the amount of assaults not only on children, but also on everyone else.

(Here is the link to an extended study on the new Fatherhood, in case you would be interested in a more complete analysis of the concept)
http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/centers/cwf/pdf/FH-Study-Web-2.pdf

This post does a very good job of bringing Aboriginal issues to light, a topic which is often ignored by the media in Canada. You mentioned the abuse that Aboriginal women face and the improvements to their struggles thanks to the Violence Against Women Act. However, as you have mentioned, this is simply not enough to protect them from harm.

Aboriginal women are victims of multiple layers of oppression in a way that is described by intersectionality (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersectionality). Not only do they face troubles due to their Aboriginal status, their sex compounds their hardships. The discrimination which they encounter is much greater than that of a white woman or an Aboriginal male since their identity includes multiple oppressed groups.

The consequences of intersectionality can be seen in the cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, an example of which can be found here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/nl-inuit-mmiw-1.3512896. This article examines the situation in Newfoundland and Labrador, where over one hundred Aboriginal women are missing or murdered, but police forces are doing little to solve a majority of cases. If members of any other group were being disproportionately victimized, there would surely be measures taken to remedy the situation.