CYBERBABBLE: One Man's Passion to Help
By Duff MacDonald
One could be squeamish and recoil from the frank, criminal brutality portrayed in Andrew Vachss' novels, or take solace that his tales are morality plays examining the underbelly of life that thankfully most never have to experience. He writes what some would call murder mysteries or true crime tales, but his is a writing that is well informed beyond the average novelist's research. You see, in Vachss' day job as a lawyer representing children, he has seen the horrors of child abuse in all its manifestations up close.
It is the fact that Andrew Vachss (pronounced "vax") has had this closeness to the criminal element that may make his writing hard for some to stomach. His is not just murder and killing and horrific gore, just for gore's sake; it is his altruistic wish to expose the truths and horrors of child abuse and other crimes against all humankind. His website is called The Zero and can be found at www.vachss.com. This website is more than just an author's vanity site, it is an absolute behemoth of resources and links to numerous governmental and nongovernmental agencies and organizations involved in helping victims of violent crimes and abuse in all its many forms. At the expense of being verbose, I'm listing his sub-headings of topics, because this list is so unprecedented. No where else on the Web have I seen such a plethora of these kinds of resources catalogued.
His staggering list of links, on these often closeted and not talked about subject matters, includes: child abuse, child advocacy organizations, child labor, child pornography, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, donations (to non-profits), hate crimes, health care, hotlines, international (resources), legal resources, lesbian, bi, gay, transgender (resources), mental health, parenting resources, animal abuse (under related topics), sexual assault, victim resources, volunteer (opportunities) and youth violence.
Move your mouse over any one of these topics, and you will get links to individual sites too numerous to list all here, but I've compiled some of the URLs below.
Listings for Mental Health include the American Psychiatric Association (www.psych.org/public_info), Mental Health Matters (www.mental-health-matters.com) a searchable directory for professionals, patients and their families, and the Ohio State Eating Disorder page, part of the Body Image & Health Task Force at (www.hec.ohio-state.edu/bitf/eatdis2.htm). Maybe you know someone with Trichotillomania (www.trich.org/resources.htm), this website is a resource for those with the compulsive need to pull out their own hair. There is the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) (www.teleport.com/~snapmail/index.html). The Animal Protection Institute is at (www.api4animals.org). For those interested in investigating the charities you give to, try going to The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) at (www.charitywatch.org).
The Zero's links continue with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (www.missingkids.com). They have a searchable database with photos where you can enter in very specific info about the child or abductor. Forced labor and child labor are a harsh reality in many parts of the world and items manufactured under these conditions are illegal in this country. Find information at the U. S. Customs Forced Labor Command Center(www.customs.ustreas.gov/enforcem/forc.htm), OneWorld.Net's guide on Child Labor (www.oneworld.org/guides/chld_labour/index.html), and at the Child Labor Project (www.aft.org/international/ child) sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, AFL/CIO. The Children's Health Campaign has much information about expanding children's health care at (www.familiesusa.org/child.html). Several papers are available as Acrobat Reader PDF files, go to (www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html) to get the free software to view them. CHILD, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children from abusive religious and cultural practices located at (www.childrenshealthcare.org). There are links for Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (MBPS), one of the most harmful forms of child abuse. MBPS involves a parent who repeatedly fabricates symptoms of illness or who provokes actual illness in their child, click on (www.bratretreat.org/brpr/v4n1.html).
Among the numerous links for Hate Crimes is HateWatch, a group dedicated to monitoring Internet bigotry (http://www.hatewatch.org). The Coalition for Victims of Violent Crime Newsletter is at (www.tiac.net/users/jeff1/coal.html). The Human Rights Campaign, a lobby group working for the equal rights of lesbian and gay Americans (www.hrc.org) and the ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) does the same work on an international scale. ILGA (www.ilga.org) was founded in 1978 as a federation of national and local groups from 80 countries representing more than 350 member organizations. Vachss' website's copious listings include two really great links for people who would like to donate some of their time and volunteer. VolunteerMatch (www.volunteermatch.org), a database of volunteering opportunities searchable by zip code, so you can find something nearby and Idealist (www.idealist.org), a project of Action Without Borders. If you want to do more than "think globally," Idealist offers you volunteer opportunities with 20,000 organizations in 140 countries, wow!
It is not hyperbole to say that Andrew Vachss' passion for helping people, especially those without a voice, like children, has helped to create a website that is a real service to the Web community and the non–virtual world. I've just scratched the surface of this amazing site, focusing on Vachss' outreach, but I'd be remiss to not suggest you click also on his Writings, Articles or Interviews links. His newest novel, Choice of Evil, published by Knopf also has a website at (www.choiceofevil.com).
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