Monday, July 18, 2011

Paving the Road to Hell


by Kate Collins

A young boy in my community died recently from abuses he received at the hands of his father and mother. He was kept in an animal cage, beaten, starved, and only God knows what else, for a long, long time. During that time, he was allegedly home schooled by his mother, so there were no teachers to help him. (Teachers here are mandated to report any suspected abuse and are penalized if they don’t.) However, the boy was seen by a couple of doctors who saw evidence of the abuse but never did anything about it. As a result, no one intervened, and the boy died praying for someone to help.

I wonder how those doctors live with themselves now. Did they have an intention of alerting authorities but never got around to it? Or did they simply look the other way? Truly, I don’t know which is worse.

In researching a quote for my next book – one of my characters is a constant font of quotations – I Googled “The road to heaven is paved with good intentions.” My mom used to use that on my siblings and me when we “intended” to do something but never got around to it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the quote is actually, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That's kind of scary.

I wonder how many other acts of charity go undone because the good intention never happened. I know I’ve been guilty of it a time or two. But if I saw a child who I sensed was being abused, you’d better believe I’d be on the phone the very next minute having someone check it out. Same goes for an animal.I will not tolerate it.

That's why I’m in favor of making the law read that any doctor who suspects abuse, whether child, wife, or husband, must report it or be penalized. How do you feel about that?

16 comments:

Liz said...

Such reporting is required in, for example, Indiana, Maryland and Virginia, by doctors or nurses, as well as teachers. Other states undoubtedly have similar laws.

Individual state's laws can be checked at a site of USHSS:
http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/

Michele L. said...

I think that it is horrible how the average citizen turns a blind eye to such unthinkable abuse. Same goes for doctors, nurses, teachers, etc. I am sure when those people meet their maker when they die, God will ask them why they didn't intervene on behalf of an innocent child. All it takes is a simple phone call.

I have called the cops for other things and you don't have to give your name if you don't want too. Just say that you want to bring it to their attention and leave it at that. The cops will step in and do their duty. It is a terrible shame what the world has come too. I really hate reading the paper anymore.

ev said...

I think here medical personnel,along with teachers and cops are required to report. If they aren't they should be. Why should teachers hold the responsibility alone? I think they have now also made it law that camp counselor's are mandated to report starting this year.

Anyone who see's abuse and doesn't report it should hope that it never happens to them and others turn a blind eye. I spent way too many years working for Social Services to ever be able to keep my mouth shut.

South Jersey Quilter said...

It's the law here in NJ. I'm a school nurse in a middle school. I remember a teacher having a suspicion- I called the kid down, chatted with him, and called DYFS. They undressed the kid and he had been beaten with an electrical cord from neck to knees- over a report card! He was removed from his parents that day and went to live with relatives. When I told the teachers who'd come to me, I had crying teachers all over the place. If it wasn't for them I may not have seen the kid, since the marks didn't show above his clothes.
Holly in south jersey

Kate Collins said...

Holly, God bless you for taking action and possibly saving that child's life.
This tragedy happened in Indiana, where there are laws to report, yet the doctors failed to do it. They must feel terrible now. I hope it's a lesson to everyone who followed this tragic story in our local newspapers. I hope!!

Nanc said...

Kate....this situation is so profoundly sad. As a former teacher and a mom I can't believe that anyone would not choose to err on the side of caution in the case of a child's safety. As a parent I would much rather deal with any possible embarrassment for incorrectly viewing a possible case of abuse...than have to live with the remorse of staying quiet.

Kate Collins said...

I agree completely, Nanc.

NoraA said...

Yes, and in some states it already is the law. NYC has it on the books and it works.

Vickie said...

There is a special place in Hell for abusers and the room next door for those who see and don't report.

Candace Donnelly said...

Friends, I was suspected of child abuse when the pediatrician saw bruises on my hyperactive preschooler. She got her bruises in the normal course of playing. She, her grandfather and I all bruise easily and our wounds take a long time to heal. Yet, my child was questioned in private with the doctor and nurse as to the nature of her bruises. She answered truthfully and nothing more came of it. I also know of men who gave their child a whack on the butt for carrying on in public and not listening when the dad asked the child to stop. The child was taken from them for that. What one person's eyes see as child abuse, another sees as discipline.
It takes maturity, integrity, honesty, and a clear understanding of where one's rights end and another's begin to live successfully in freedom. If we legislate every action and monitor everyone under the threat of state punishment and legal action, we will lose freedom. You will surrender your rights as law abiding citizens to the state. Consider that you are asking to make laws because of a few bad people but ending up monitoring the many who do understand how to live in freedom and how to exercise their rights intelligently and with maturity.
Please know that my heart aches for the child who died praying for someone to help. Thank God that He Himself rescued that boy. Now, may justice be done for these criminally negligent and abusive parents.
Personal note to Kate: Our childhood friendship included discussions of differing views as we were sorting out life at an early age. I am smiling as I
remember those time and you :)

Lisa Black said...

I attended a fascinating seminar on child abuse one day and the instructor referred to a paper written by a doctor in 1968 called "The Battered Child Syndrome". Up until then there was no such thing as a battered child. Doctors and cops had to accept whatever explanation the parents gave as true. We did also have an incident recently where the kid looked like he had been beaten with a rod all over his back, but the lines were perfectly spaced, which looked odd. It turned out to be an Asian home remedy for a cold or flu, involving a salve and copper pennies, which discolored the skin and made it look red and bruised. (A rare happy ending!)

Vicki said...

I grew up with a Mother who used the actual quote on my siblings and I all the time. I know all about the road paved with good intentions. I also worked as a reading teacher while pursuing a journalism degree, a substitute teacher and later for an attorney who unfortunately handle some terrible court appointed guardian cases. I have seen founded and unfounded cases. As I child who was raised in a house with spankings, and thankfully received few, and do believe in same as reasonable discipline, I also believe in reained professionals being alerted if something seems amiss. Too many times tragedy results in waiting when we mean to speak up but maybe there is a good explanation. Yes, often it is simple discipline but it may not, maybe this boys neighbors thought the same of his parents.

Kate Collins said...

Good points, Candace, Lisa and Vicki. I know from my experience that teachers feel safer reporting a suspected problem because they can always say they "had" to report it. I would hope doctors would hold to those same ethics, but in the case of this local boy, neither doctor did. Should there be repercussions or will their consciences punish them?

Aurian said...

Every time something like this is discovered, there is a cry out for new laws and rules, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, the check up on those kind of things is impossible. In my country you can tell those things anonymously.

Anonymous said...

About six months ago here, a stepmother who worked at a daycare center beat (possibly kicked) her stepdaughter in the stomach until she slowly died. She took the child with her to work that day, and her coworkers mentioned that she should take the child to the hospital. She left work to supposedly take the child to the hospital...which she did...several hours later...after the child had died. As a teacher, I have no problem reporting possible abuse cases (in fact had to report two legitimate ones last school year), but like medical personnel, shouldn't daycare workers also report those abuse cases? In this case, the workers did NOTHING. Maybe they were afraid to upset their fellow coworker--and possibly friend? It just makes me glad that our childcare situation is such that either I'm at home, my husband is at home, or my parents are watching my son. I know not all daycare facilities are like that, but when I hear of a local one having something like this happen (or having a worker who brutally beat and murdered her stepchild), it scares me.

Kate Collins said...

I hope the woman's co-workers got severe reprimands, if not lawsuits brought against them. I would imagine they were not too popular in town. One can only hope their consciences bother them -- at the very least.
It just shows that one person can make a difference. I'd always rather err on the side of caution. If a situation seems wrong, speak up!