The Free Press reported on a man charged with assaulting kids, ages 7 and 10, in what he claims to be self defense. I take that to mean he didn't know how to manage a conflict.

A month before, there was an update on the couple charged with leaving a young child in the woods because of urinary incontinence. Again, they picked an utterly inappropriate way to handle their frustration.

In each case, the criminal justice system is right to hold the perpetrator responsible, and journalists are right to report on it, but if that's all that journalists do, they are missing their ethical calling. Journalists are the experts on finding information and disseminating it. They ought to be finding and disseminating the information on how to prevent child abuse and neglect.

News stories like these should include something like "Any parent or caregiver who can't come up with a better idea for what to do with their child should call this hotline." And if the reporter can't identify an appropriate hotline in their geographic area, that gap should itself be the subject of an article.

Unpleasant as it is, we need to recognize that every parent or caregiver is potentially capable of child abuse or neglect if sufficiently frustrated and lacking in appropriate skills and resources.

The hotline to call should be on every family fridge and in every parent or caregiver's cell-phone contact list. The press has a role to play in getting it there. Those fortunate enough to never need to call can be glad to have wasted a few square inches of fridge space and a few bytes of storage.

Max Hailperin

Minneapolis

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