So there is this wonderful story about a couple in Philadelphia who starved their 3 year old to death. Their daughter weighed 11 pounds at the time of her death. What do you say when you read things like this?
Honestly, there isn’t much to say.
But, there is more to the story. While the general population has a hard time fathoming the idea of starving one’s child – TO DEATH – you might note within the story that the couple had 4 other children, including a twin of the 3 year old.
According to the parents, the child who starved to death had Down’s Syndrome, and it can be difficult to keep a child with disabilities fed if they have trouble eating. These children are often under or over their target weight.
Of course, you’ll never see a follow up story to this. So we will never know all of the facts in this case. But I am going to make some wild ass guesses here:
- This family was poor, or;
- This family was scared to ask for help, or;
- This family was unaware of the positive assistance they could receive if they had asked, or;
- None of the above, and they were really bad people who worshiped the devil.
Which is more likely?
Compare this story to the death of Alexandria Hill at the hands of her foster mother. Is there a difference?
The difference, while maddening, is that one died with her family and one died without.
A front loaded system of public care could have prevented BOTH deaths.
Front loading the system means helping the family as a matter of applicable law rather than acting on the outcome alone.
In America today we focus on the observable outcome of a series of actions – poor parents can’t get a good job, have to many kids, don’t ask for help, kid dies, now arrest the parents and throw the kids into foster care. Dad smokes pot, throw the kid in foster care.
How is it possible to live in a country where the law demands the removal of a child from his or her parents, but the law does not require that the entire family unit be made whole again with supervision and care?
We have granted ourselves the authority to remove another family’s child from their home. But we somehow cannot fathom the idea of forcing the parents to accept training, assistance, in home care and other front loaded services to prevent the breakup of the family. Insanity.