Child’s death barely raises an eyebrow

It’s the kind of story that barely makes the news these days. It’s not like anyone went without air conditioning, raised the interest rates, or the story in any way involved a celebrity’s love life or athlete’s indictment.

It was merely another child who died at the hands of his parent.

Twenty months old and beaten to death by his father, allegedly for crying. One cannot help but wonder if the crying was before, or after, the beating commenced?

More importantly, one wonders why a parent with such poor impulse control, and a startlingly lack of parenting skills was allowed to continue to parent “until death do us part?” The child’s death, of course.

Media. Perhaps, had the child had been mauled by a dog the story might’ve made more of a media ripple?

Seeing as how the news would have us believe that children are routinely killed by a variety of household pets from boa constrictors to pit bulls. The true number is closer to two dozen children having died in animal attacks.

Tragic, but this pales in comparison to the more than 250 children who perished at the hands of their own parents during that same period.

Leaving aside legislation on pit bulls for a moment, perhaps a society wide ban on vicious parenting is long overdue?

Villagers. We have become a nation of hypocrites.

We spout that it takes a village to raise a child, but when tragedy occurs, we wring our hands and look to blame someone, anyone, else. Forgetting that in most fatal cases of abuse or neglect, countless people have to stand by silently, fail to act, and in doing so become unwitting accomplices, in order to permit a child to be repeatedly abused or neglected until death.

So, fellow villagers, ask yourself if we have become a nation that will act on the neighbor’s mistreated dog before we will act on their mistreated child? That has no problem telling a person how they can handle their car, maintain their credit, and in many neighborhoods even dictate how tall their grass can be, but we would not dare speak up when at most a child’s well being, and at worst their very lives, are at stake?

That isn’t to say that we don’t call officials. Oh but we do. Social workers, police officers, and court officials will assure us that the system is overloaded with false reports.

Ex-spouses and ex-lovers and grandparents and ex-friends and all manner of people using false allegations of abuse as their own personal trump card.

The daily paper’s police blotter is rife with reports of people who expect the police to do their parenting. Meanwhile, truly abused children must wait their turn until someone, anyone, can get a good hard look at their case.

It’s like asking someone with a knife through the heart to get in line behind the guy who needs a bandaid.

Honor. So what’s one more statistic? One more little boy won’t live to see 21 months, or 21 years. He won’t learn to ride his first bike, catch a fish, a baseball, or a girl’s eye.

And it is predictable, the laying down of candles, and ribbons, and teddy bears in little shrines.

To “honor” him we say. We would honor him, and children like him, to leave the candles and the ribbons and the teddy bears and instead vow never to let another child go unseen, unheard and unsaved.

The reality is that some people despite being blessed with biological capability, just shouldn’t be parents. While others, well suited for it, desperately wish to be.

The obvious solution is there. Yet, as a society we place such emphasis on the “rights” of the abusers, and our continued commitment to treating children as personal property, that we have utterly lost sight of the abused.

Granting second, and third and fourth and 16th chances to negligent parents until all the chances run out. For the children, that is.

And as one villager to another, let me ask you: Doesn’t that make us the village idiots?

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is grateful for all the parents who are truly trying every day. She welcomes comments c/o kseabolt@epohi.com or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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