The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 1998 · Page 143
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 143

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 29, 1998
Page 143
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Page 143 article text (OCR)

A MAN WHO HAS DEDICATED HIS LIFE TO PROTECTING CHILDREN WARNS WE ARE BETRAYING THEM AND OURSELVES. A HARD L K AT 1 (giHinm BY ANDREW VACHSS term survival is at stake. Ultimately, it poses a greater threat than war, poverty, hunger, crime, racism and tribalism even of the genocidal variety combined. That fundamental failure is this: We are not protecting and preserving our own. Our notion of the human "family" as the safeguard of our species has not evolved. Instead, it has gone in the opposite direction it has devolved. It has devolved to the extent that we YEARS AGO, I WAS in the middle of a hotly contested trial, representing an infant who had been so tortured that the testifying pediatric expert said the baby actually appeared "suicidal" even at such a young age. One of the opposing attorneys argued for the return of the child, saying his client was the "natural moth 1 f V -"' r . ? ' ' er and had certain? rights. That phrase res- onated deeply within tolerate unprotective, even violently abusive parents. It has devolved to the extent that we tolerate predators within a child's circle of trust in schools, in dubs, within religious organizations. It has devolved to the extent that abusers, even vhen they have been identified, are per-mitted further opportunities to prey. It has devolved to the ex me. There was nothing "naturaT about the "mothering" this baby boy had received. He would have been better off in a P.O.W. camp. And I began to reflect on how even biology has failed some children, how our human species no longer practiced the lessons of our predecessors. I wondered. tent mat we insist on even then, if it was too late for r us. I do not be- JUSTIN A MORALES the "rehabilitative po-itis-butldo iT-toraTtC tentiaT of those who Our notion of tlia hunun family as the aJeguartf of lieve Andrew Vachss is a lawyer whose only clients are children. This article draws upon his more than three decades of front-line experience. believe we are running gwTi hand on Dae. Si, 95, to Now viciously injure and out of time. Eyto-RooT or sua"y "auU Although we all be their own children. Vachss writes novels as an extension of his votvod, Mtys tha author (above). has work, hoping to reach a larger jury than putting our And it has devolved to the extent that we permit convicted predators of children to be released and walk among us. One distinguishing characteristic of highly evolved species is a long period of postnatal helplessness, when offspring are not able to fend for themselves. An- lieve our human species to be the highest point on the evolutionary scale, there is one critical area in which we have failed to evolve, one area in which we do not represent an improvement upon our predecessors. And this is a failure so fundamental, so critical, that our kng- any courthouse could offer. His latest novel, var at i 'Safe House, "just published by Knopf, probes deeper into the themes of this article. acc 4 macm ta. ataa mum mmum COVL rHOTOGHATH Of A MODEL UT PAL'L CHAUNCETTHE STOCK MARKET

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