By Thomas Pluck

Those of you who’ve been paying attention will know that one of the issues we care most about at Pankhearst is the deeply pervasive evil of child abuse. We’ve written about it at length and the subject inspired all the stories in our own first book. So when we came across author Tom Pluck and learned of his work with PROTECT, we were keen to invite him to tell us all about the organization. And now, right here, he does.

Most people know not to bring a knife to a gunfight. But they’ll bring a gun to a knife fight every time. And that’s when the knife wins.

Guns are for killing from a distance. Knives are up close and personal. A bullet is a tiny freight train that destroys everything in its path. A knife can be used to perform surgery, and many have been put to that purpose.

When you want to cut out cancer, you don’t bring a shotgun. You reach for the knife.

PROTECT is a knife forged and honed for one purpose: removing the cancer of child abuse. Their mission, in their own words: PROTECT is a bipartisan pro-child, anti-crime lobby whose sole focus is making the protection of children a top political and policy priority at the national, state and local levels.

There have been organizations to fight child abuse since the 1900s, with child labor as the target. The first organizations fought animal abuse first, then expanded to help children. The first use of the shotgun approach, the force was diluted from the beginning. Until PROTECT came along. PROTECT and the National Association to Protect Children make their mission to fight the abuse and exploitation of children.

What does Protect do? They lobby Congress to fund the Internet Crimes Against Children taskforces, with Alicia’s Law. They get $20 million in funding for law enforcement to track and prosecute child porn rings. And now the H.E.R.O. Child-Rescue Corps employs wounded veterans to monitor online traffic, identify the hands-on offenders, and rescue the child victims from their abusers. These are just a few of Protect’s many victories.

You may not believe it, but there are lobbies who fought against repealing laws that reduced your prison time if you abused your own child. They called it the “incest loophole,” and made that a “family issue.” If they raped someone else’s kid, they’d do prison time. They raise their own victim and they get probation, and counseling, and the victim is forced to live with their rapist. Protect has defeated that practice in many states, the most recent being California.

Let us return to the gun metaphor. What is the most powerful lobby in Washington? One of them is the National Rifle Association. Agree or disagree with their mission, their method is sound: they inform politicians of their one issue, gun ownership, and tell those politicians that their vote hinges upon that issue and none other. Save the whales? That’s somebody else. One issue. Protect has that surgeon’s focus.

I joined Protect after reading an article about them by author Andrew Vachss. I edited the anthology Protectors: Stories to Benefit Protect, which gathered 41 writers for the cause. All proceeds from the book go to Protect. That’s one way a writer or a reader can help. The best way is to stand up and join us: Be a Protector.


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