The Mail

Vast problem of abuse

February 24 1997

The Mail

Vast problem of abuse

February 24 1997

The Mail

Vast problem of abuse

Are your kids safe?” (Cover, Feb. 10) leads me to the conclusion that the Canadian public must have its collective head in the sand. As a social worker in child welfare for the past 20 years, I can sadly assure you that child abuse and neglect are of epidemic proportions in Canada. Because the victims are our least powerful citizens, it can be ignored to a large degree by our politicians and mainstream media. Hockey player and abuse victim Sheldon Kennedy has publicly exposed only one part of this vast problem.

Bill Warren, Portage la Prairie, Man.

The acclaim accorded to Sheldon Kennedy for his courage in going public only serves to show the sad way our culture views this crime. Victims should be able to take it for granted that they can be open about the as-

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

should be addressed to:

Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 H E-mail: letters@macleans.ca

or: 76702.2247@compuserve.com Maclean’s welcomes readers' views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites.

sault and receive society’s concern and care. Our culture has denied this process to victims in the guise of protecting their identity. It is too late for protection. Let’s blame the Graham Jameses and Paul Bernardos of this society and make them ashamed. Let’s support the Sheldon Kennedys and try to change our attitudes so that other victims can be assured it is not their disgrace, too.

Joy Ward, Wiarton, Ont. IS

Our present system aims at punishing the abuser, and rightly so. There are, however, a group of people who are equally guilty in each situation. These are the people in higher authority to the abuser who were informed of the situation at the time and decided to do nothing about it, presumably hoping it would go away. Is it not time that we held a few more people who carry positions of responsibility accountable for what they know and what they do with that knowledge? It is also time our court system made these people aware of their legal, as well as moral, obligations to society. We must all be responsible.

Jean Trend, Grand Falls, Nfld. El

“From hockey to schools to scouting, the hunt is on for sexual predators.” Oh, really? What bravado! What self-righteousness! What hypocrisy! Isn’t this the same Canadian public and media that championed Eli Langer (the one whose graphic pictures showed adults and children having sex)?

Isn’t this the same Canadian public and media that applauds and awards writers like Alice Munro, whose books contain passages of incest and pedophilia, but who never mention how gravely wrong these are? What does it take to make people realize that attitude determines action? As long as children are viewed as “my right” or “my fulfilment,” sexual or otherwise, instead of what they truly are, namely a blessing and a sacred trust from God, then the most dangerous person for any child is the one you see in the mirror.

Janet Smith, Kettleby, Ont.

MP Jan Brown’s private member’s bill mandating the establishment of a national registry of pedophiles is a step in the right direction. But the intent of this registry is, in part, frustrated by Canada’s name-change agencies, which are not legally bound to report pseudonyms to the police. Surely it is obvious that allowing convicted pedophiles to change their names makes it easy for them to establish themselves in a new com-

Comic-book history

111 t’s nothing to laugh about,” says AnI nie Welsh, the 82-year-old survivor of the 1917 Halifax Explosion quoted in your recent article about the educational comic book on the subject (“Eastern aftershocks,” Opening Notes, Feb. 10). With all due respect to Ms. Welsh and the suffering she endured, was it absolutely necessary to conclude your piece on this note? Frankly, those of us who create comic books are getting tired of defending the basic validity of our art form. Questioning the historical accuracy of the comic book is perfectly legitimate because it is a question of content and execution. It is not valid, as far as I am concerned, to denigrate the very existence of the publication simply because it is a comic book. As a history teacher, I think that McClelland & Stewart and the CRB Foundation should be commended for finding an innovative, exciting way to teach Canadian history. As an artist, I publicly reserve the right to tell any story—no matter how painful it may be—in my medium of choice.

Mark Shainblum, Montreal111

munity affording them access to new victims. Ironically, it also makes it possible for the offenders to do something that their victims will never be able to do: escape from their past.

Elizabeth Haas, Toronto

'Naming of names'

Contrary to what your article suggests (“Blood pressure,” Canada, Feb. 10), the Red Cross, in seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, is not trying to prevent Justice Horace Krever from blaming current or former Red Cross employees in his final report. The names of individual Red Cross employees and officers involved in these events are a matter of public record. The charges in the notices, however, are based on unsubstantiated allegations and contain language that is equivalent to civil or

CLARIFICATION

Contrary to information in the Dec. 2,1996, issue of Maclean’s, St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto paid APM Inc. a predetermined fee for consulting services, not a percentage of budgetary savings. APM and the hospital advise that the identified savings exceeded the fee paid by many times.

THE MAIL

criminal liability. It is these notices, not the naming of names, that the Red Cross is asking the Supreme Court to review.

Antoine Normand, National director, public affairs, Canadian Red Cross, Ottawa

Gzowski and Beatty

What a pity that CBC Radio host Peter Gzowski had to apologize for calling CBC president Perrin Beatty a son of a bitch (“Gzowski apologizes to the boss,” Opening Notes, Feb. 3). I call him that frequently in the privacy of my home—every time I see what he has done and is doing to the CBC.

Gladys Pringle, McCreary, Man.

Regarding politicians

I was astonished to read that I was “openly contemptuous of Campbell” (“Feeling the heat,” Canada, Feb. 10). I have never, nor would I ever, express contempt towards the Right Hon. Kim Campbell, or any other Canadian politician. I have always held in high regard those of our fellow citizens who serve as elected representatives in government at whatever level.

Admiral John Anderson (ret.), Brussels

Profile in courage

A million thank-yous for an inspiring profile of Phan Thi Kim Phuc’s courageous recovery from a napalm attack as a child during the Vietnam War (“An extraordinary capacity to forgive,” Canada, Feb. 10). Kim’s fortitude comes as a refreshing chinook amidst the frequent icy blasts of similar stories where themes of victimization and blame dominate. In attempting to account for Kim’s triumph over tragedy, however,

you perpetuate the questionable notion that faith and religion are synonymous. Might it be that Kim’s story is due, at least in part, to an awareness that only living faith is the source of such admirable forgiveness?

Tim Callaway, Calgary

Science vs. hockey

The results of the science report come as no surprise, and I believe are more a reflection of our values as a nation than a failing of our students or education system (“Measuring young minds,” Education, Feb.

10). As a society, we just have not valued and recognized outstanding ability in science and math. In Canada, if you’re a 14-year-old gifted hockey player, the world’s at your feet: the goal is to help you develop to your fullest potential. If you’re a 14-year-old gifted student, you may get a couple hours of “enrichment” a week. When one looks at who has the potential to make the greater contribution to society, I’ll put my money on the latter. Hopefully, as we try to position ourselves as a leader in the new world economy, we will start to nurture this type of ability much more than we have in the past

Terry Boyd, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. S