Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Emotional Abuse In the News

Most of you by now have probably heard, or read the transcript of, the angry message that actor Alec Baldwin left on his 11-year-old daughter's voicemail the other day. Apparently, young Ireland was suppoed to have a scheduled phone call with her father, but instead, she didn't answer the phone, and in fact had her phone turned off at the time when her father was supposed to call. As a result, the little girl was subjected to a voicemail message where her father accused her of making an idiot out of him and insulting him. He called her a thoughtless little pig, among other things, told her that her mother didn't care about her, and vowed to fly out to where she lived so he could straighten her out.
Emotional abuse? Yes, I would say so.
But there is more emotional abuse going on here than the case of a father leaving his child an extremely abusive, inappropriate message. Then there is the case of Ireland's mother, who may or may not have leaked the message to the public... and who may or may not have been using her custody of Ireland as a pawn in a nasty divorce. And finally, there is the media, who put a huge spotlight on the little girl caught in the middle of this whole thing.
Usually, when a child is abused, it is kept confidential. Imagine if something similar happened to a child you know, perhaps your child's best friend. The child was abused in some way by her parent, and the parent got caught in the act of the abuse. What a horrible situation, right? Now imagine that the newspaper got ahold of the story and broadcast it everywhere... "Attention, world! Tommy Jones's father beat him with a belt! Isn't Tommy Jones's father a horrible person?"
Yes, Alec Baldwin did something horrid when he left that cruel message on his child's message. More than likely he was angry at the child's mother, and let it out on the child... something that, for a child, is terrible to experience.
But it seems like much of the media is more concerned about gossiping about a celebrity than they are concerned about the child! The media seems to be saying, "Haha, check this out... we totally busted this celebrity abusing his child! Thats some great gossip, isn't it?"
If nothing else, I hope this story will make every parent (and everyone who spends time with children) stop for a minute and think about how their voice sounds when they are angry at your child. When we talk to our children, are we saying things that we'd be proud to have broadcast all over the USA? Or are we saying things that would bring shock and embarassment down upon our whole family?
Alec Baldwin, and the rest of us, need to remember that words cannot be taken back. Alec may publicly apologize until he turns blue in the face, but Ireland will always remember those words... and she will always wonder if that's how he really does feel about her.

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