Sunday, July 30, 2006

Insincere apologies may double victim hurt

A stiff apology is a second insult. The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
- G.K. Chesterton, author (1874-1936)

"You did wrong. You hurt your sister. Now apologize."

"I'm sorry."

"That's better. Now, go to your room."

What was accomplished? The offender was made aware of his offence and that it was unacceptable. The offender was made to lose face by hunbling himself before his sister. The offender was punished. The mother (judge) is satisfied that a wrong has been righted.

Nothing has been done to help the victim to heal, to get past the hurt, to forget. In a sense, the victim was ignored by the administrator of family justice. Being ignored, to a child, is another form of hurt. The victim was hurt twice. The victim hurts more than ever as a result of the misunderstanding of the effects of faults in the family justice system.

Community and national legal systems use the same system for administering justice. The perpetrator is punished, the administrators are satisfied that justice has been served, but the victim remains hurt. An exception, sometimes, is family courts.

While it may be said that legal systems have no way to compensate victims other than by the granting of financial compensation (which is seldom available except when large companies lose a civil suit), families do have the means to help victims to heal.

Families need to be told, preferably before the family grows beyond the man-woman stage, what kinds of healing mother and father can offer to help a victimized child. Otherwise our administration of family justice remains as ineffective as the administration of our legal systems at preventing further hurt.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help parents understand the effects of their parental decisions on their children.
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