I was a victim of child abuse and I have something to say to Tucker Carlson

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver
·3-min read
 (@ProjectLincoln/Twitter.)
(@ProjectLincoln/Twitter.)

Content warning: This article includes descriptions of child abuse

Tucker Carlson is in the headlines again, and this time it’s for trivializing child abuse. That’s right, folks — the Fox News host is now claiming that making children play soccer with masks on is comparable to beating them.

“Forcing children to wear masks outside, that should be illegal,“ Carlson said on his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight. “Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart. Call the police immediately, contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives.” In the same program, Carlson also claimed that outdoor mask-wearing was child abuse and that adults are “are morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.”

Mask usage is an attempt to keep children safer during a time of global health crisis as they interact with others. I’d say that parents enforcing precautions to keep their children healthy is, by definition, the opposite of abuse.

I know what child abuse looks like firsthand, and it’s not making your child wear a mask in the midst of a pandemic. I know because I was an abused child.

When I was six years old, my biological mother began a near decade-long stint of violent emotional, physical, and medical abuse. I was denied medication some days, and forcibly overdosed on others. Sometimes, she would starve me and then make me sit at a restaurant with the rest of the family to watch them eat. Other times, she would force-feed me candy and sweets until I vomited and then rush me to the hospital, claiming I was mentally ill and had an eating disorder. As an elementary school-aged child, I was kicked down the stairs, forced to sleep in the bathroom (which later graduated to a closet), and swung around the room by my hair. There are entire chunks of my childhood that I have blocked out due to trauma.

The examples I can list are countless and horrific, but that’s not the point. The point is that all these instances and more were reported to Child Protective Services, and nothing came of it. Every other week, a new case was opened and closed as “unfounded”. Even with two black eyes, I was told by my CPS counselor I was “unhappy, but not unsafe” and that I “looked too healthy to be abused”. I was lucky enough to escape the violence at 16, thanks to my adoptive mother and my aunt, who took me in and helped me recover, with no help from CPS.

Even without an influx of useless calls, CPS is already practically toothless. The cases of Gabriel Fernandez and Nixzmary Brown underline that in a tragic way. Calling them about outdoor mask usage is going to inundate a system that already struggles, and often fails, to help children in crisis. In New York, there are documented agency lags in protecting children from over ten years ago, and nothing substantial is changing. Reform is the bare minimum: There should be set rights and standards for children’s safety across America, rather than state by state, which can leave room for cases to slip through the system’s cracks. This is a conversation worth having. A conversation about whether one can start categorizing mask-wearing as child abuse due to one’s political beliefs is not worth having, and indeed is actively damaging to the children who desperately need domestic intervention.

What Tucker Carlson is proposing — to flood CPS with useless calls — could be the reason an abused child dies because they couldn’t receive care or the reason an investigation into mistreatment fails to be completed in a timely manner. Don’t be part of that just to “own the libs”. It is absolutely and unquestionably not worth it.

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