Alaska can learn from new movie ‘Spotlight’ how to bring abuse out of the shadows

Alaska Dispatch News


Trevor Storrs
December 27, 2015

The new Star Wars movie has grabbed everyone’s attention. However, there is another must-see movie – “Spotlight.” This new movie, directed by Thomas McCarthy, stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams as the real-life Spotlight investigative journalist team for The Boston Globe. In 2001, they uncovered a pattern of sex abuse by Catholic priests in Boston and how the Catholic Church covered it up. While the church lays at the center of the scandal, the movie lays clear that the blame falls on all the members of the community who saw the signs and refused to acknowledge them.

We won’t learn any specific strategies or solutions to prevent child abuse from this film, but it does teach one very important lesson about stopping it from happening: refusing to let it exist in the dark.

“If it takes a village to raise a child,” says a lawyer played by Stanley Tucci, “it takes a village to abuse one.”

Preventing child abuse is not the responsibility of children but the adults around them. When “we” as members of the community, as leaders, as parents, are willing and persistent about having real conversations about child abuse and neglect in our community, we can prevent those systems of silence from ever existing.

In “Spotlight,” those who could have stopped this abuse but never spoke up were journalists, school administrators, lawyers, upstanding members of the community. There were complex reasons why these people refused to speak up about child abuse; It could endanger people’s jobs, some people did not believe the church could be guilty of that, some people were frightened, and some people just had trouble talking about such a difficult topic.

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