Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Real Grownup Cries Sometimes

I worked for Child Protective Services for 14 years. I saw less abuse than neglect. And neglect kills or injures more than abuse. The nice thing about neglect is that it gives you a little time to remove the kids to better care.

But tonight I am crying, both for a kid found dead now,and a kid I didn't realize was being abused, and she's dead now. Years dead, It's just there are similarities.

Both were about the same age--2. One was a boy. One was a girl. One was with a parent. One was not.

Other than their deaths, and the way they died, perhaps there is little similarity. This boy in the news now was abused over weeks, months. One of the police officers, clearly upset, said it was hard to imagine how you could dehumanize a person enough to inflict the damage he found. This boy was never under public scrutiny.

The real similarity is that two children who could not defend themselves were killed by the very ones who should have protected them. One of these kids was my case, years ago. One is now someone else's. And whether the parents cry or not, we professionals do.

The similarity of both cases, beyond the ages of the victims, was the disbelief of the killers that they had killed. So they called 911. And ultimately were arrested.
I see that. I remember that. And it still hurts. It hurts the current officers and CPS workers, who took the untouched birth child of the killers from them as authorities sort out what they did and if possible, why they did, consistently abuse their cousin's child to death. We always talk about the victim. Have you read
"The Boy Called It"? I keep wondering what damage it does to the kids not abused or killed to see it happen.

The kid I remember is a pretty little girl with brown curls and a pretty dress who said little when I visited her. I had too many cases, but I saw this girl. She was unbruised, and height/weight appropriate. I met criteria. Cold, that, when the child is dead.

The mother actually called me on the way to the hospital. She said her daughter was not breathing from a reaction to strawberries, and she had strawberry marks all over.
Her daughter was already dead, though neither of us knew it, and the strawberry marks were beatings.

So I kind of understand the 911 call of the folks who brought this boy in. They had been abusing him for months. Why was he dead now?

Yes, I've seen it. It hurts. It hurts. We go on.

You know, caseworkers don't get paid much, especially in Texas. Police officers, more. Attorneys, most. And in the case of this current little boy,whatever the dollars, the pain is the same.

Doing the job means it hurts. And maybe I am not the only one who cries after.

(Addendum, one day later: there was a vigil to honor this abused little boy last night. It was arranged by the EMT who brought the boy's body to the hospital. No, I'm not the only one who cries.)