The Novel, “The Railroad”: What is the Railroad?

The novel, “The Railroad”. What is the “The Railroad”?

Tomorrow, June 1st, is the release date of the second edition of my Novel “The Railroad”. Of course it was my wife that pointed out to me that the name of the book suggests many things, most of which don’t describe the book. While the subject of child abuse is part of the fabric of the story, I tried to highlight the question: what can be done to protect children from child abuse? The answer, for many parents is, “not much”.

While there have been many cases where pedophiles have been prosecuted and convicted, the legal system has historically been a crap shoot for desperate parents trying to keep their children from being brutalized. The effects of child abuse is a subject for another blog. But, certainly, it is harmful enough, long term, that protecting your child from its effects is something that will drive parents to do legally questionable things.

Let’s stop for a second. I have heard far too many people who are not interested in discussing child abuse, almost as though mentioning it is annoying and in bad taste on your part. Recent history is full of stories of women and some men, becoming fugitives and living half a life to protect their children.  But that is the tip of the iceberg because most cases of child abuse are not reported. And so we have an epidemic.

I will go out on a limb and say that America is a nation that tolerates insanity and behavior that flies in the face of our basic ethics and the constitution. Along those lines I’ll explain that the title “The Railroad” refers to the current underground railroad that takes in victims of abuse and their parents and moves them from place to place to keep them out of the hands of the legal system and, far more importantly, out of the hands of abusive parents. The idea of an underground railroad began in the 19th century, when abolitionists ferried slaves up north to freedom. This demonstrates that there is a hallowed American tradition of people of conscience challenging the law when other Americans have drunk the Kool-Aid and engaged in what history eventually judges to be aberrational and patently insane behavior.

The coverage of the new underground railroad is oddly  spotty over the years. In 1988 the New York Times published an article about the growing number of “railroad” movements. The most famous of the modern abolitionists was Faye Yeager who began a railroad organization when her husband was given custody of her child in the midst of accusation of abuse. Several years later her husband was convicted of abusing three children and became a fugitive. In the article, various people, including lawyers, made it clear that the legal system had failed children in many cases, mostly because we are unable to accept the possibility that parents can beat and rape their own children.

More recently, organizations like Child help act as a testament that abuse is still an awful problem, stating that approximately 3 million reports of child abuse are made yearly and that a report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. That fact that there is a multi-state non-governmental organization such as Child help is a testament to the longevity of the problem.

Many lawyers and politicians have advised against going underground for desperate parents, most of whom are women, basically because it worsens an already tangled problem. Yet the basic problem, the abuse of children, still exists and is the problem that needs to be solved. For many parents, going underground is the only alternative.

Lest you think that this is a personal, family problem, google child abuse and the prison population. One surprising facts is that numerous studies have been done linking the propensity to commit crimes to abuse as a child. This is purely common sense but it does suggest that by ignoring child abuse we are putting a gun to our own heads; the prison population has doubled since 1985.

Between child abuse, domestic abuse, and the new scourge of human trafficking, it seems like our society might be rotting from the inside. And, perhaps worst of all, we have turned our backs on everything that makes this country a shining light in the world, the promise of justice and freedom.

As an earlier “railroader” pointed out in the New York Times article, published in 1988, “there is no north”. For abused children there is no safe place if the legal system fails them. If you had a choice between staying quiet or running to spare your child from physical and sexual abuse, what would you do?

I hope you will share my story and read, “The Railroad”, available tomorrow, June 1st on Amazon.

The Railroad on Amazon:



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