Bucks County Herald

Former Vice President Joe Biden carries torch for son’s efforts against child abuse

Announcement of Doylestown Hospital partnership in Bucks

STUART LEE FRIEDMAN



Joe Biden, former American vice president, addresses a gathering at Ann’s Choice in Warminster Tuesday. He was in Bucks County to announce a partnership of the Beau Biden Foundation with Doylestown Hospital.

Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared in Warminster on Oct. 10 as part of a formal announcement of a programming partnership between the Beau Biden Foundation and Doylestown Health.

The event, held at Ann’s Choice Liberty Commons Performing Arts Center, continues the mission of the foundation’s efforts to fight child sexual abuse.

Biden stated that child sexual abuse is a leading health risk for children. One in 10 children will be molested by the time they are 18 years old, and that number is even higher for those with disabilities.

Biden said 35 percent of abused children are under the age of 11 and 93 percent are abused by someone they know and trust.

In 2014 alone, over 1,500 children died in the United States from abuse and neglect. Biden added that every 10 seconds, a call is made to a child abuse tip line.

“Think back when you were a child,” Biden asked. “You’re 10, 11, 12 years old. Imagine. Imagine the desperation and fear. We hardly ever hear about it. Hardly ever hear it talked about – particularly in polite company. … It’s a dirty little secret.”

In 2010, Joe Biden said that his late son Beau, then Delaware state attorney general, passed on opportunities to serve both as governor and in the U.S. Senate, choosing instead to focus on the prosecution of what Joe Biden called “one of the worst child molesters in the history of the country.”

The crime was particularly brazen in both its breadth and audacity. It involved a pediatrician who was ultimately convicted of molesting 86 patients. The average age of his victims was 3 years old, with the youngest victim being just 3 months old. Particularly shocking was that many of the sex acts were committed in another room while the parents sat waiting.

Beau Biden at the time stated that the most disturbing aspect was the abuse of trust – both with the unsuspecting parents and the “voiceless” children. The crime inspired Beau Biden to focus on more effectively empowering adults to protect children.

He brought to Delaware a child sexual abuse organization founded almost 10 years earlier in Charleston, South Carolina called Darkness to Light. Within that organization was a more recent program called Stewards of Children, an effort geared to educate adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

“Preventive measures matter,” Joe Biden asserted as he lauded Doylestown Health’s focus on preventive medicine. The partnership between Doylestown Health and the Beau Biden Foundation will include facilitator-led training of medical staff in the Stewards of Children program, which Joe Biden stated is now the premier child sexual abuse prevention program in the country.

Over 28,000 Delaware residents have been trained in the program and Delaware leads the nation in state population percentage, currently more than halfway to Beau Biden’s goal of five percent. Joe Biden anticipates the same will be true for Pennsylvania and for Bucks County.

“We want child predators to know. Bucks County will not be safe for them,” he said.

Joe Biden spoke of Beau’s legal and moral commitment for adults to stand up and speak out for children.

He said that Beau felt the issue needed to be addressed as a communitywide effort to transform the culture into one of effective prevention.

“These children can’t speak for themselves. We have to speak for them,” Joe Biden said, echoing his son’s words. Indeed, many episodes of child sexual abuse have continued to prove the tragedy that results when adults fail to meet that obligation, from the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston to the Boy Scouts to the Penn State scandal.

In those and many similar cases, abuse thrived in an environment in which adults either looked away or prioritized institutional interests over those of the child.

Doylestown Health Administration President and CEO James Brexler and Joe Cowhey, owner of the Warminster ShopRite which provided funding for the project, shared some opening remarks before introducing Biden.

In a warm bipartisan show of friendship, Biden gave a shout out to former U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick who was present at the event.

“Michael, you’re a good man. You’re a really good man,” Biden said, pointing to Fitzpatrick in the back row. “Where I come from in Scranton, Pa. – to be Irish and to be Catholic is to be a Democrat,” Biden joked, calling Fitzpatrick “my kind of Republican.”

Biden closed by saying that the efforts of the Beau Biden Foundation were a national undertaking, and while it may be hard for the child to speak, it was not hard for the adult to learn the signs and step up.

“Silence is complicity,” he said. “Silence is consent.”

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