Abuse of kids by Russian couple in Salem, Take 2
I have been contacted several times recently to restate my position on the Russian family accused of abusing their kids in Salem, because many disagreed with me. My first blog is now being circulated around circles. In this blog, I will restate everything I said in the first blog, as well as provide details and explanations of why I made such statements.
Here is the story: a Russian father and mother recently had their kids taken away from them, because the kids themselves called the police on their parents and reported that they were being severely abused. The kids were taken away from the parents, and a trial was set.
I watch all the videos I could find from the trial, and there was plenty to be seen. The kids testified against their parents, sharing stories of abuse. For example:
a). The son shared an incident when he was so severely beaten by his dad for getting in trouble in school that he was not able to go to school for 8 days because of physical pain and signs of abuse on his body.
b). The daughter shared about times when they would be put on their knees as punishment for cutting her hair for 6 hours straight. At times, she would go in and out of consciousness, while on her knees for so long.
During trial, the parents decided that they did not need a lawyer, and made a statement that “God was going to defend them.”
At the end, the kids were taken away from them, and the parents were sentenced to 7 years in prison.
During the trial, a Sunday School teacher from the church was questioned by the prosecuting attorneys, and his answers stunned me. When asked if he would ever report child abuse to authorities, he quickly and unquestionably answered no. In my first blog, I stated that the Sunday School teacher is wrong. Why? First of all, there is such thing as physical abuse that is beyond discipline. What if the child is sexually abused, does he not report that? What if the child is neglected, not given food and not allowed to sleep? Does he hide that too? During the trial, the Sunday School teacher was not asked if he would report discipline, he was asked plain and simply if he would report abuse of a child, if he knew it was happening. I believe his testimony during that trial hurt the parent’s case, as well as hurt and painted a negative picture of the Russian/Ukrainian community in the US. As Sunday School teachers, leaders and pastors, we do believe in discipline and in teaching kids to honor parents, but we do not believe in abuse and ignoring a kid that comes to us to tell us that his or her dad is raping/neglecting/physically abusing him or her. Because that Sunday School teacher gave that testimony, it will hurt other Russian/Ukrainians’ families’ chances of defending their case in the future, if they were to come up. I had to write my initial blog and scream “NOOOOOOOO,” that is not what we believe in the Russian/Ukrainian community! We believe in discipline but we DO NOT BELIEVE in ABUSE. I was screaming and telling the whole world that the Sunday School teacher DOES NOT REPRESENT MY VIEWS.
I believed and still believe that the parents made a mistake to just claim that “God was going to defend us, therefore we don’t need a lawyer to represent us.” It was painful to watch, but during cross examination, the defendants (the parents) were given the opportunity to question the witnesses, and in most cases, it was their own kids. Instead of asking questions, they just made statements like “I love you my son/daughter dearly.” I understand that they wanted to say that because they had not seen their kids for months before the trial. But, instead of asking any questions, all they did was make those statements, which got the judge upset. Surely, the judge could have been more understanding, but, sooner or later, the parents had to start asking questions and they never did. If they would have gotten a lawyer, he probably would have asked the kids to share positive memories of growing up. He probably would have asked whether or not the kids ever went hungry – and they never did because the only accusation against these parents was physical abuse, not neglect. And by sharing the positive aspects of the family, it would have warmed the hearts of the jury, as well as maybe softened the hearts of the kids. And maybe, just maybe, at the end, instead of getting a 7 year sentence, the parents could have been required to attend some parenting classes and classes on abuse, but the family would have been saved! Or at the very minimum, the sentence could have much must less then the full 7 year term, plus they could have asked for visitation rights.
Simply put, the parents were ignorant, and it cost them. Now, I’m not sure if they will be able to get their family back together. Surely, by the time they get out of prison, the kids will be grown and living somewhere else.
It does look like these parents abused these kids, at times. But, when compared to millions of alcoholic and drug addict parents who also neglect and abuse their kids, I believe these parents were not as bad as portrayed. The problem is, the parents allowed that negative portrayal, by ineffectively representing themselves.
In my first blog, I also mentioned that fact that one of the reasons that these parents were so ignorant is because of RELIGION. The religion I was talking about is the kind of religion and hypocrisy that Jesus saw in Pharisees. The Pharisees had the law, but no relationship with God.
These parents, it seemed as, they knew the law “to discipline their children” but did not have a relationship with their kids to know that their kids were slowly but surely distancing themselves from the parents. So the parents did what they were told to do – beat the kids. But, haven’t they read the Bible, which also says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger” (Ephesians 6:4) or “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21)? How about compassion? How about teaching out of a relationship?
I believe in discipline. Let me say this again. I BELIEVE IN DISCIPLINE. And ironically, the judge in this case also said that he believe in discipline. So, before you start commenting about the importance of discipline – let me tell you – that is not the discussion here. The discussion here is abuse! The discussion here is about hitting your son so hard that he cannot go to school for 8 days. The discussion here is about putting your daughter on her knees and then watching her faint. And what is sad is that the reason why the girl was put on her knees for 6 hours was because she cut her hair which was against her mother’s and father’s belief.
If you try to force your belief on someone, including your kids, more than likely and sooner or later, they will rebel.
More often than not, belief is “caught” rather than “taught” in a Christian home. Kids will do what we do, and not what we say. You cannot force someone to believe in God. You cannot force someone to follow His ways. Allow the Holy Spirit to do that.
I pray for this family. I pray that the parents may see the light and ask the kids to forgive their abuse. I also pray for the families that currently surround these kids, that they will be good to them. I pray that these kids will soften their hearts towards their real father and mother, and eventually the relationship is restored. Most of all, I pray that these kids will not harden their heart towards God, but realize that He is a loving God and longs to have a relationship with them.
I hope that the parents get a real lawyer, and file for an appeal. I don’t think they are that bad, and they do deserve another chance, with some help.
PS. I’m almost sure my 2nd blog on this story wont be as popular as the initial blog, because here, I explain my reasoning and most readers will probably agree with me. The 1st blog was a much shorter version without the explanations, leaving the reader more room to try to scoop something up against me without allowing me to explain what I mean. If you’ve read this far, at least you know the whole story.
PS. My parents are what you would consider “Ukrainian Conservative Christians” and by no means am I critical of all such parents. My parents raised in the most loving atmosphere, and even though they believe in discipline, I only remeber once in my life that what I was spanked, and I was 8 years old! They raised me and taught me to cherish conservative values, and today I share the same belief and values as my parents. I have the outmost respect for my parents, and we have a loving, lasting relationship. They are my heroes. I wish the same for this family out of Salem.