Blog Archives

Bullying in the U.S. Military

By chance, I stumbled upon last month’s New York Magazine article on the life and tragic death of Army Pvt. Danny Chen, who died of suicide in October of 2011. Chen was severely bullied and hazed by his superiors in Afghanistan. Among other things, he was made to run while carrying a sandbag, made to do push-ups with a mouthful of water, and was called racial slurs to his face. Bullying in general, and in the military in particular, is a major issue that needs urgent addressing. You might think that soldiers should develop strength of body and spirit and hence endure bullying – and indeed, some harsh treatment is part of basic training -, but I strongly disagree. It is this attitude that reinforces the widespread abuse of military personnel, especially those belonging to minorities. While the Army should reinforce toughness, it should also be based on equality and fairness. This seems to be far from the case, given that Chen’s death is not an isolated incident. According to ABC News, Mr. Chen was the second Asian American to die of apparent suicide in Afghanistan in 2011. Probably, more people killed themselves thanks to the culture of discrimination and taunting in the U.S. military. I don’t know whether the investigation called for by Sen. Gillibrand (which the ABC News article is about) has been initiated yet, but if it hasn’t, it needs to soon.

U.S.: Annual Cost of Child Maltreatment $124 Billion

Yesterday, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prvention (CDC) released a report that found that the annual cost of child maltreatment (CM) is $124 billion. Child maltreatment includes physical, psychological and sexual abuse as well as neglect. YaMinco of the Children’s Monitor comments on the report:

The study highlights some evidence-based strategies for addressing CM, including a promising array of prevention and intervention programs with great potential to reduce the economic burden of maltreatment. Although longitudinal research on the economic burden of fatal and non-fatal CM is still very limited, the study suggests that in economic terms the burden is so substantial that the benefits of prevention will likely outweigh the costs for effective programs.

I found it most interesting that fatal child abuse is more expensive than non-fatal abuse. Now that I loked at the CDC news release, it makes sense, since they count productivity losses and a dead child can’t work. However, please also note the substantial criminal, mental health, medical and educational costs for a child who survives maltreatment. If this doesn’t signal that child abuse is an urgent public health concern, I don’t know what does.

Pennsylviania, U.S.: Woman Charged with Sexaul Assault

One of the most prevailing myths about sexual abuse is that the victims are always female and the perpertrators are always male. While this is true in the majority of reported cases, women can be rapists and sexual abuse perps too, and boys and men can be victims. In Pennsylvania in the United States, a woman was charged with sexually assaulting three boys over a five-moth period in 2007. The woman is already in prison, although the article does not say for what.

Some legislatures unfortunately state that women can’t be rapists. This perpetuates the stereotype of male offenders and female victims, and further minimizes the chances of getting justice for male survivors. It is good in this sense that Ms. Frable was charged. I hope that it wasn’t a case of real rape being dismissed as sexual assault.