Victor Vieth, the executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center, walks without fear into one of the deepest, darkest parts of hell. Willingly. Lovingly. Over and over again. To teach anyone who will listen how to save the world, one safe child at a time.

The man wants to end child abuse. It’s a vision at once audacious by virtue of its scope, its need to fundamentally change, worldwide, the base animal impulses of domination and violence that beget so much more of the same.


Audacious, maybe. But more audacious still — no, tragic — that we require someone to wave their arms and jump up and down and shout to us in a voice hoarse yet steady, welcoming: Look here. Look. This here, this is the evil. This here, this is the wrong. If we do not fix this it will destroy our families, and then it will destroy our communities, and then, in turn, it will destroy each one of us.

Look. This here, this comes first. This world has other worries but if we can’t keep our children safe then there’s not much reason to concern ourselves with them.

The man has stood for years at podiums and on stages across the country, across the world, waving his arms tirelessly, asking us to listen. Not to him. To children.

We’re starting to hear.

Gundersen Lutheran announced a partnership last week that will provide more financial stability for the center. The partnership complements Gundersen’s innovative leadership on energy conservation, advanced directives and other areas of quality health care and community collaboration.

Also last week, nearly half of Minnesota’s congressional delegation announced legislation that would build similar training centers across the country to expand the work and training methods the Winona center has already provided to tens of thousands of caregivers, health-care professionals, emergency personnel and others. We admire the willingness of Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Reps. Tim Walz and Betty McCollum to stand up for those who are vulnerable, including the victims of child abuse.

We’re starting to spread the word.

A Winona County social worker said at Gundersen’s announcement that the county alone has handled 180 suspected child abuse cases this year.

We’re not all listening.

The man wants to end child abuse in three generations. He thinks he can do it, and if he’s going to go stomping into hell day after day to prove it the least we can do is listen.

First to him.

Then, always, to our children.

All of them.

They are all ours. Our blood, our hopes, our dreams, our visions.

To understand that is to understand that we are responsible for their successes and failures, both individually and collectively.

They will succeed.

They just need to be heard.

To be safe.


By Brian Voerding, editor, on behalf of the Daily News editorial board, which also includes deputy editor Jerome Christenson and publisher Rusty Cunningham.