The radio and television airwaves have been filled for the past two weeks with talk about the legal separation of two-time presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife and Elizabeth. But that’s not all, there has been lots of talk about salacious revelations about the former candidate by Edwards’ ex-staff member and confidant, Andrew Young. He’s written a new book called “The Politician” that will officially released this week.
Political junkies have been as obsessed with the story of Edwards and his family as younger people are obsessed with the trials and tribulations of Brangelina. People are gobsmacked by the litany of lies from Edwards about fathering a child outside his marriage and his brazen affair with his campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter.
As I watched the “20/20” interview with Andrew Young in its entirety last Friday, I couldn’t help but wonder about the Edwards’s two younger children who are around ages 10 and 12. It must be horrifying to find out that your father is having an affair with a woman and you now have a half-sibling. It must not be easy to show up at school with your family’s intimate secrets everywhere.
Unfortunately, although the news is not usually broadcast on radio and television, many children have to cope with the knowledge that their parents are divorcing because of an extra-martial affair. It wrecks families and in extreme cases can even cause family violence leading to murder.
Teen pregnancy has been considered such a public health problem that President Bush made abstinence education a government-funded priority, spending $160 million dollars in his budget for abstinence only education.
The federal government has allocated additional millions to help professionals identify child abuse.
There are also countless programs for elementary school children identifying “safe touch.” Abuse in families is a top consideration on the public health agenda.
Cheating on your spouse is as old as written history but the long-term consequences on the family are just beginning to be understood. If we already have government programs to prevent teen pregnancy, to teach children about “safe touch,” and we offer mandated court intervention during certain divorce proceedings then why not think of extra-marital affairs as a public health problem?
Let’s add this to our quiver to minimize family dysfunction and the trauma it causes to children. Let’s give it attention like we have to other forms of emotional and physical abuse. Maybe then we will be glued to the television watching something more fun and productive than seeing family dysfunction unfold before our eyes.
Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor.