Examples of Child Abuse in Pop Culture

Toddlers & Tiaras – TLC Series

“Yours is just about ripe. You gots to git em when they is still soff when you mashum. That’s how that man said it.” Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

The quote above from Ellen Foster is enough to make your stomach turn. The man Ellen’s dad invites to the house is not seeing Ellen like a child (she’s 10 or 11 at the time) but as a sexual object. Adults find this practice wrong or repulsive when asked about it flat out. However, a look at the show Toddlers & Tiaras might prove their distaste doesn’t run as deep as originally thought. The show, to put it simply, follows the lives of child beauty queens. When we think of the term “beauty queen” most of us probably picture women in their late teens and twenties either in bathing suits or ball gowns, wearing crowns and faces full of makeup. Beauty pageants are sexualized. While there are segments that are supposed to show the well-roundedness of contestants (the question and answer portion) much of the competition is judged by looks and clothing. While this may be a matter of beauty and self image, isn’t it disturbing that we are dressing up children to look like adult women? Where does this draw the line for sick men like the one from Ellen Foster? If society tells them it’s ok to treat little girls like grown women, as long as they’re beauty queens, why would they see this as child abuse?

 

Hitting Your Kids Is Legal in All 50 States – Time Magazine Article (Sept. 17, 2014)

 

“Get away from me he does not listen to me but touches his hands harder on me.” Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

An article published in TIME Magazine in September 2014, shares the shocking fact that hitting a child, or rather hitting your own child, is legal in all 50 states, at least it was two years ago. No word if the laws have been changed. The only discrepancy is what type of hitting is “too much.” Is spanking ok? What about bruises? Or physical injury? While most states agree that child abuse is classified by any act that physically harms a child, others say any act that “leaves a mark” can be considered child abuse, though the definition of “mark” is not defined either. Some states claim a mark can be anything from a cut to a brush burn to a bruise. Some states say cuts and bruises are the only things that pass as marks. In Ellen’s case from Ellen Foster, from the passage above, would her father’s actions be considered child abuse in her state? He hadn’t left a mark yet, he had only grabbed her and ignored her plea to let her go. Does that qualify as abuse? Ellen did not consent to the grabbing, but is it legal because her father is the one doing the grabbing? In the United States, we are all quick to say child abuse is wrong, but we all have a different idea about what constitutes abuse. How can we prevent something that doesn’t even have a concrete definition?

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