One of the causes that I am most passionate about is preventing child abuse and holding those responsible for such pain to children, the most innocent in our society, accountable for their actions.
I came up with an idea to create awareness and raise funds to protect children about 20 years ago, but unfortunately, haven’t the resources available to implement my plan.
My idea is to create a compilation album/CD of songs either directly, or indirectly related to the victimization of children with all proceeds going to organizations that protect children.
The legalities of obtaining permission to use the songs along with production, promotion and distribution of the CD are well beyond my range of experience.
I’ve compiled a partial list of songs, but would welcome any suggestions for others that would fit the project.
Hell is for Children – Pat Benatar (1980)
There are two versions of Hell is for Children, the studio version, and the “live” version, which has a very unique opening. Although I personally prefer the studio versions of most songs, there’s something very powerful about the live album version which has the intro: “Suffer The Little Children” leading into “Hell Is for Children”.
In researching this song, I found an interview with Neil Giraldo, husband of Pat Benatar, as well as guitarist in her band and co-writer of the song along with Benatar and bass player Roger Capps. According to the interview from the website songfacts.com, the song was inspired by an article that Benatar read in the New York Times about child abuse. After the song was released, the public thought the song was written from the perspective of Pat’s personal abuse, but Giraldo said that wasn’t the case. He said “She had a great upbringing. You couldn’t get more Happy Days-like than her. She had the perfect Happy Days life.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Pat Benatar backstage when she appeared in Hershey right after her daughter Haley was born in 1985. I remember her saying that her baby was with the nanny. At the time I was working at 93.5 WTPA. It’s hard to imagine that little girl is now 30 years old!
Luka – Suzanne Vega (1987)
Luka tells the story of a frightened boy who is forbidden to talk about what he’s going through. Again, from the website songfacts.com, Vega had this to say on a Swedish television special in 1987, “A few years ago, I used to see this group of children playing in from of my building, and there was one of them, whose name was Luka, who seemed a little bit distinctive from the other children. I always remembered his name, and I always remembered his face, and I didn’t know much about him, but he just seemed set apart from these other children that I would see playing. And his character is what I based the song Luka on. In the song, the boy Luka is an abused child – In real life I don’t think he was. I think he was just different.”
In an interview with SongTalk magazine, Vega said she started with the title for the song, took months to think about how to pull the song together, then she wrote it in two hours. Vega wrote the song about three years before it was released on her second album.
The Little Girl – John Michael Montgomery (2000)
This song was written by Nashville songwriter Harley Allen. There is an email being circulated around the Internet saying that Allen wrote the song after his brother forwarded him a copy of an urban legend email telling the miraculous story of a little girl who sees a picture of Jesus in Sunday school and identifies him as the man who comforted her the night her father killed her mother and himself. According to the website snopes.com, in an article published in USA Today, Allen says he and his brother have tried to track the source of the tale, without luck. He says, “if it ain’t true, it ought to be.”
The snopes.com website also lists information about an album by Allison Moorer that was released the same day as Montgomery’s album. Moorer’s album included a hidden track at the end called “Cold, Cold Earth”, about a father who shoots his wife then turns the gun on himself, which parallels the story in “The Little Girl”, however in the case of Moorer’s song, it’s based on a true story…the man and wife were Moorer’s parents.
All The Girls Love Alice – Elton John (1973)
Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, which didn’t originally include the word “young”. It’s said that Elton added it during the writing process to better fit the melody he had created. That’s why the title is “All The Girls Love Alice”, but many people identify it as “All The (Young) Girls Love Alice”. Adding the word “young” also appears to emphasize the lyrics about Alice’s age, at sixteen…
“Reality it seems was just a dream
She couldn’t get it on with the boys on the scene
But what do you expect from a chick who’s just sixteen
And hey, hey, hey, you know what I mean”
Tragically, the song tells the story of, not only Alice’s sexual adventures with older women, but her untimely death as well…
“Poor little darling with a chip out of her heart
It’s like acting in a movie when you got the wrong part
Getting your kicks in another girl’s bed
And it was only last Tuesday they found you in the subway dead”
Sexual exploitation of children is a crime that happens around the world every day! If more people realized just how much it touches their lives, right in their own neighborhoods, involving not just strangers, but friends and family, maybe more would be done to stop this unspeakable act of abuse and trafficking of children.
Concrete Angel – Martina McBride (2008)
If you can watch this video without a tear in your eye, you’re a stronger person than me.
Concrete Angel is a song about the abuse a little girl goes through at the hands of the person who is most expected to protect her…her mother. Like so many children who suffer abuse at home, they try to hide the wounds. The video is an excellent example of the sadness and shame in her eyes, feeling alone without anyone to trust or confide in.
According to someone on the songfacts.com website, the little boy in the video isn’t a real boy, but rather a guardian angel, as explained by Martina McBride in an interview.
In the video, it appears as though the teacher notices the bruises, but doesn’t ask about them. Fortunately, Pennsylvania has recently passed legislation requiring more people to be mandatory reporters if they suspect evidence of child abuse.
Studies have shown that child abuse is cyclical. In many cases, a child who is abused will grow up and repeat the cycle of abuse to their own children if intervention isn’t obtained.
Child abuse isn’t something that will go away. If you suspect a child is being abused and do nothing, you are just as responsible as the person inflicting the abuse.
No Son of Mine – Genesis (1991)
The best way to explain the lyrics to this song is to quote Phil Collins directly, as taken from the radio show Rockline…
“The chorus of the song came from improvisation while we were writing the music. I took the notion of my lyrical idea and just wrote a story around it. The story is sort of self-explanatory. It’s a household of abuse. The father is being sort of the monster of the family – he’s either abusing the son or the mother. I’m not quite sure who, and that’s deliberately left open. But it’s happening everywhere behind closed doors, and a lot of people I’ve found that have heard the song have sort of reacted as if it was written for them. It’s extraordinary, you just write something that comes about by accident, but in fact it all ends up being something that reaches a lot of people.”
The lyrics that make this song stand apart emphasize the fact that it’s not just the physical abuse that affects children. The physical wounds (in most cases) will eventually heal, but the emotional scars can have a profound impact on a person for the rest of their life.
In the song, the young man revisits his father years later, thinking that, with adulthood, things would change. Then his father proceeds to hurt him all over again…
“He sat me down to talk to me
He looked me straight in the eyes
You’re no son, no son of mine
You’re no son, no son of mine
You walked out, you left us behind
And you’re no son, no son of mine
Oh, his words how they hurt me, I’ll never forget it
And as the time, it went by, I lived to regret it”
The Ballad of Dwight Fry – Alice Cooper (1971)
Although this song is not directly about child abuse, the undertones are there. According to Songfacts.com, “This song is a salute to the actor Dwight Frye, who played maniacal characters in many Universal horror films. Cooper dropped the “E” from the name to avoid a lawsuit.”
Cooper would perform this song in a straitjacket, as a disturbed man sent away to an institution. ‘
According to Songfacts.com, “The child’s voice at the song’s intro was actually a woman in her early 20s…
“Mommy where’s daddy?
He’s been gone for so long.
Do you think he’ll ever come home?”
The line that always made me feel uncomfortable is…
“Should like to see that little children
She’s only four years old.. old
I’d give her back all of her play things
Even, even the ones I stole”
I think the reason it disturbed me was, the way he delivered it, with such emotion.
If you suspect a child is being abused, please report it!
PA ChildLine is available 24 hours per day,
seven days per week at: 800-932-0313.
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD
Child Help USA website: www.childhelpusa.org