Saturday, October 07, 2006

Patty Wetterling Radio Address

Good morning. It's going to be a busy Saturday. We'll have lots of campaign news, some new campaign ads and a report from the Alamo, where Hastert's boys are definitely getting skittish.

Let's start things off with the Democratic response to President Bush's weekly radio address. The response was taped this week by Patty Wetterling, Democratic candidate for Congress in Minnesota's 6th district. Wetterling has been a national advocate for child safety laws since her 11-year-old son Jacob was abducted at gunpoint in 1989. He has never been found.

Not surprisingly, Patty Wetterling was the first candidate to run an ad denouncing the failure of the Republican leadership to protect minors working as pages in Congress, which we posted last Tuesday. No one should be surprised that Republicans, in true Ann Coulter fashion, have denounced Wetterling for "capitalizing" on her own grief as a mother touched by the terrible tragedy of child abuse.

Click here to listen to Patty's radio address (MP3), and here to read the full transcript. An excerpt follows:

Good morning, my name is Patty Wetterling.

I am a mother, teacher and child advocate from Minnesota. On October 22, seventeen years ago, my son Jacob was abducted. Jacob is still missing. As I talk to you today I am as concerned as ever about the safety of all of our children.

This week, we all watched in shock and with deep sadness as violence hit our schools and the security of classrooms was violated – and we watched in anger as yet another scandal broke in Washington.

In Colorado, Pennsylvania, here in Minnesota and across the country, we need to be able to tell our children that they are safe when we kiss them goodbye or put them on a school bus in the morning. Our schools must be a safe place for every child.

Seventeen years ago, I committed my self and my work to strengthening penalties for those who harm children and to stopping the sexual exploitation of children. The terrible reality of child sexual abuse is that it almost always involves someone that the child knows. As was the case with Congressman Foley.

Foley sent obvious predatory signals, received loud and clear by members of the congressional leadership, who swept them under the rug to protect their political power.
If a teacher did this and the principal was told but did nothing, once the community found out, that principal would be fired.

If this happened in a church and the minister received information and he did nothing, he’d be fired.

Congressional leaders shouldn’t be held to a lower standard than what we expect of our community leaders.

Too often, even well-intentioned people stand by when there is a suspicion of child abuse because they don’t know what to do and they hope that the problem will just stop or go away. Too often, there is more concern over protecting an institution than protecting our children. That is precisely what happened here.

Secrecy is the common ingredient in all child sexual abuse. When we have reason to believe someone is sexually abusing a child, we must act. When a child has the courage to come forward, we must not become part of the secret. We must make the protection of our children the highest priority.

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