Keeping “An Open Secret” open to the public
Keeping “An Open Secret” Open to the Public
By Melanie Blow
Most of our justifications of censorship, particularly in the movies, involve protecting children. Our current system sets an upper limit on the sorts of language, images and concepts most mainstream parents don’t want their minor children exposed to.
There is a national trend to “protect” kids from learning about child sexual abuse. Whether it concern about books dealing with the topic, such as The Bluest Eyes being included in the Common Core curriculum, to high school students discussing rape in their high school newspaper, it makes us uncomfortable to think about children learning about such things.
The Amy Berg documentary “An Open Secret”, which focuses on sexual abuse of child actors in Hollywood, is the latest victim of this over-zealous, faux “protection” craze. The movie delves into the abuse of several child actors, and explores the web of abusers and the systems facilitating them. Which, incidentally, look a lot like the systems that facilitate child sexual abuse within religious institutions, schools, and families.
The movie has been slapped with an “R” rating, limiting the number of theaters that will show it and making it all but impossible for teens and pre-teens to see it.
Research shows 25% of our nation’s children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. That’s horrifying. As a nation, we wring our hands, but don’t change laws, like Statutes of Limitations for child sexual abuse, that keep 90% of offenders on the streets and out of the sex offender registries. We don’t scramble to educate ourselves about the issue. Instead, we seem to hope that by keeping our children from learning about child sexual abuse, we protect them from experiencing it.
There are no graphic descriptions of sexual acts, violence, or profanity in this film. There is honest discussion of how abusers ensnare their victims, of the broken systems keeping abusers out of prison, and of the pain and consequences that imprison their victims. Children don’t need protection from a film discussing what they need protection from.
One of our culture’s greatest shames is how little we do to prevent children from abuse. Depriving communities of a chance to learn about abuse adds insult to injury.