December 1, 2012
Bastard Out of Carolina: Child Abuse
At least 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made every year involving more than 6 million children (sometime multiple children in a report). Every ten seconds, there is a new report of child abuse in America (Childhelp). It has been a controversial issue as to what punishment should be brought to those who know of a child being abused, but does not report it. To carry knowledge of a child being abused but failing to report it should consequence in subjection to imprisonment, equal to that of the abuser. Abused children should be brought to a caring, adoptive family or to other family members who show love for the child, and it should never be an option for the abusing parents (if parents) to regain custody of their children. When the abuse is not reported, the abuser may continue the abuse, abuse other children, and the children might one day abuse their own children.
In Bastard Out of Carolina, the main character, a child named Bone, is abused often. The abuse started at the age of seven, when she was molested in the vehicle by her stepfather while waiting for the birth of their evidently stillborn son. “He pushed my skirt to the side and slid his left hand down between my legs, up against my cotton panties” (Bastard Out of Carolina, page 46). After losing his job, the abuse becomes more frequent and aggressive. He would beat her, molest her, and in the end he raped her. Glen did not distribute his abuse to other children, including his other stepchild Reese. He only beat and molested Bone. According to the movie Bastards Out of Carolina, Bone dropped a pitcher of ice tea at the house of Daddy Waddell (Glen’s father). He becomes angry, and tries to hit Glen. Glen shoves his father away, saying “You can’t hurt me anymore old man”, suggesting that Glen was once abused by his father (Bastard Out of Carolina, Dir. Anjelica). An experiment was done in 2001 and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry about the cycle of abuse. In this experiment, there were 41 women and 135 men who were victims of sexual abuse that attended the forensic psychotherapy service. Of the women, only one, or about 2%, was also a perpetrator of sexual abuse (Cycle of Sexual Abuse). Of the men, 79 were not only victims but also perpetrators of sexual abuse. This is equal to about 59% of the males who were victims that became abusers (Cycle of Sexual Abuse). This study indicates that an abused child is likely to become an abuser themself. This evidence is also backed up by another study indicating that approximately 30% of all abused children go on to abuse their own children (Childhelp). The abuse Glen received as a child increased his chances of becoming an abuser as well. Glen seeks to have control in his life, the control he never had in his childhood because of the abuse he went through. The abuse he inflicts on Bone is his way of trying to have control over her and the way his family runs. Anney enables the abuse he inflicts on Bone because she constantly returns to him. Anney’s first reaction is to protect her child, but then she returns to protecting Glen. After the first beating of Bone, Anney “slapped him and grabbed me (Bone) up in her arms” (Bastard Out of Carolina, page 106). Later that night, however, Anney and Glen “were making love, Mama sighing and sobbing and Daddy Glen repeating her name over and over” (Bastard Out of Carolina, page 108). After Bone was raped, Anney “slapped him again” and “jerked away from him” (Bastard Out of Carolina, page 290) but moments later “was holding him, his head pressed to her belly” (Bastard Out of Carolina, page 291). She always returns to him, no matter how much he hurt Bone. Like Anney, bystanders who fail to report the abuse of a child enable the abuser to continue. They give the abuse the power to continue abusing the child and possible other children.