Child Abuse — The American Way

#WhereAreTheChildren is a very old question

Michele Sharpe
4 min readMay 28, 2018


A crying child wearing a shirt that says “happy.” Photo by Arwan Sutanto on Unsplash

Children are vulnerable — physically, emotionally, and legally. And they are powerless. That’s why those in power can exploit children, hurt children, and use children for political and economic gain.

I remember my childhood frustration at not being heard, my fear of being at the mercy of unpredictable grown-ups, and my vow to never forget how powerless I felt, even when I became one of those horrible adults.

And yet, I’ve had to remind myself of that vow over and over again.

Children should be seen and not heard. An old saying, but one that still permeates the fabric of American culture. Children are held cheap in America. Their voices too often go unheard.

The question on many people’s minds this week is #WhereAreTheChildren, a hashtag in response to news that 1500 children are “missing.” The news was generated by a release of ACLU court documents, which reveal that the Department of Health and Human Services lost track of 1475 children who arrived at the U.S. border as unaccompanied minors between 2009 and 2014 and were placed with sponsors.

In a Twitter post, author and activist Rene Denfeld correctly states that this shameful situation, and the separation of children from families by ICE is not something cooked up by the Trump administration. ICE’s practice of separating young children from their parents has been in place for a long, long, time.

The “good guys” have never been in charge when it comes to children. In fact, the American government has been in the business of separating very young children from their parents since the country was founded. And it’s also been in the business of abusing and killing children.

Families were torn apart by slave traders on the auction block. The “owners” of the children forced them into labor and sometimes physically and sexually abused them. Anti-Native abusers ripped children from their homes to populate “Indian Schools” where thousands of children were not only subjected to forced labor and assimilationist…



Michele Sharpe

Words in NYT, WaPo, Oprah Mag, Poets&Writers, et als. Adoptee/high school dropout/hep C survivor/former trial attorney. @MicheleJSharpe &