What would you do if you saw children being abused?
The sad truth is many of us care, but not enough to get into the middle of what could be a dangerous or embarrassing situation.
We don’t do it out of meanness, as much as self preservation.
If we don’t get involved, we can’t get hurt, right?
This is a video from ABC News. It illustrates why many parents enter the foster system and how those children are mistreated.
Happily, there are those who will step up and help those in need, though in some cases this can cause an escalation in the violence these kids endure.
The CBC News in Canada did a post on the crisis children face within the foster system.
Some children are placed in foster care without full safety checks while others wind up in supervised apartments or overcrowded homes, say child advocates who warn of a deepening crisis across the country.
In one case, a four-year-old girl was removed from the care of her aunt in 2006 after she was found to be neglected, malnourished and suffering from recurring physical abuse. An investigation found that the aunt had not been appropriately screened.
If you know of a case like this, or see signs of abuse please do the right thing and contact your local child protective services.
And if you are a child in need of help:
Childhelp® is a national organization that provides crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to a database of 55,000 emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453).
If you need help with personal or family situations, you may wish to visit our resources on Where to Find Help.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, or if you are a child who is being maltreated, contact your local child protective services office or law enforcement agency so professionals can assess the situation. Many States have a toll-free number to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect. To find out where to call, consult the Information Gateway publication, State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers.
This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare Information Gateway.
My new book, Summer Lovin’, explores this issue.
Two young boys are left in the care of a neglectful uncle after their mother dies. All he’s interested in is the monthly allowance he receives for their care.
When school secretary, Rebecca Sorenson, meets one of the kids and is threatened by the uncle, she decides to seek help from the sheriff.
Here’s a short excerpt from Summer Lovin’
Tommy cried all the way home. Not great hiccupping sobs like he’d done in the past when they’d first arrived at his uncle’s house and realized they were worse off now than when their parents died. No, these tears were silent. A steady stream that ran down his face and dripped unheeded off his chin. Tears of despair, of a childhood lost, of faded dreams.
Just for a moment today with that pretty schoolteacher he’d felt something close to peace. Her scent when she’d held him in her arms reminded him of his mom and he hadn’t wanted to let go. But then his uncle had shown up.
He reached the edge of town and looked for the overgrown drive. A broken down gray wooden fence and a lopsided Keep Out sign pointed the way to the old cabin hidden amongst tall spruce trees. The dirt lane was rutted so bad it tossed his bike from side to side but he refused to walk; his uncle had warned them there were snakes in the grass just waiting for little boys. Tommy wasn’t taking any chances.
He pulled up next to the sagging porch and slowly laid his bike on its side, listening for his brother. A soft humming led him to the corner of the building. Jasper sat in the dirt, his scrawny bare back bent over a little toy truck he was using to make roads with in the sand. Tommy sighed his relief, no new marks that he could see. He’d gotten here in time then.
“Hey, brother, whatcha doin’?” He let Jasper know he was there before moving forward.
Jasper jumped up, ready to flee, then realized who’d spoken and cracked a mile wide smile. “Tommy, Tommy you’re back.” He ran and wrapped his arms around his brother and Tommy frowned at how thin they were.
“Did you eat the food I hid for you?” he demanded.
Jasper shrugged, his chin digging a hole in Tommy’s chest. “I wasn’t very hungry,” he mumbled.
Tommy frowned and set him back so he could look him in the eye. “Jas, you gotta eat. We ain’t ever gonna get outta here if you ain’t strong enough to run.”
Jasper’s eyes lit with hope. “Can we go now? Can we, huh?”
Tommy cursed his big mouth. Why’d he go and say anything? “No. We can’t go until we have a plan.” Jasper’s lips wobbled and Tommy changed the subject. “Show me the roads you’ve been building.”
It worked, for now. Jasper trotted over and sprawled out on his belly, reaching for the little blue car he’d been playing with. “Wait ‘til you see this. I made a hill and my car flies,” he said, his voice filled with excitement.
Tommy followed more slowly, his mind on that nice teacher. Why couldn’t someone like her have taken them in? He missed his mom so bad and yet sometimes he got scared because he couldn’t quite picture her in his head anymore. The teacher reminded him of her though. She smelled good too and had a pretty dress. His mom always wore nice clothes; she said she liked to look pretty for her boys. Man, he missed her. She’d know what to do right now because he sure didn’t. The only thing he did know for certain was that he’d promised to take care of his brother and he darn sure was going to.
The rumble of a vehicle coming up the drive had both boys scrambling for cover. A ratty blue tarp hanging over a pile of scrap metal nearby did the job, though it was a tight fit. Their uncle had warned them often enough to keep outta sight of strangers.
“Who is it?” Jasper asked, his voice squeaky with a mix of fear and excitement.
“Shh, we’ll know soon enough,” Tommy whispered. “Just keep quiet, okay?”
The rattle as the engine shut down told him who it was even before the tinny door slammed shut and his uncle stomped around the corner looking like the axeman from Snow White.
“Where the hell are you hiding, you stupid little shits?” he roared. His heavy work boots kicked up tufts of dust as he circled the yard in search of them. He glanced at Jasper’s toy car, reached down, picked it up, and sent it flying into the bushes.
Jasper whimpered but thankfully held silent, his body vibrating so hard the tarp rattled. Tommy jerked him away, pulling him up against his own shaking body. He was so scared he needed to pee.
“You come on out of there or your stupid ass brother is going to pay the price.” The edge of the tarp lifted and a hand reached in and latched onto Tommy’s arm in a death grip. Jasper’s eyes grew big as pie plates and welled up with tears. Tommy cried out in pain but shook his head viciously at his brother, warning him to keep quiet and stay still.
And then he was yanked out and thrown to the ground. Uncle Pete stood over him as he lay in the dirt, lips twisted in a snarl that sent shards of fear through Tommy’s gut.
“You better explain yourself, boy.” He nudged Tommy with his boot. “What did you think you were doing at the schoolhouse today?”
Tommy thought fast. There was no way he was going to tell this man the real reason. He had to come up with something to defuse the anger brewing in his uncle’s eyes. He reached into his pocket and reluctantly withdrew the gold chain he’d taken from the teacher lady’s purse.
“I was getting you some money, Uncle.” A beefy hand reached out and swiped the necklace from his hand. His uncle eyed him suspiciously for a moment before lifting the cross on the chain to the light.
“You aware this is stealing, boy?” He gave the chain a little shake and the cross glinted so bright it practically blinded Tommy.
“I did it just the way you showed me, sir.” Tommy lifted himself to his elbows. “She won’t know who it was.”
Uncle Pete frowned, his brows like bats wings over his eyes. “You better hope the hell not, kid. Your brother doesn’t like when you screw up.” He laughed, his belly jiggling under the dirty plaid shirt. He turned and strode toward the shack, hollering over his shoulder, “Git in here and make me some grub, I’m hungry after chasing you all over creation.”
Tommy waited a few minutes, knowing full well that it was his uncle’s routine to go into the house, grab a bottle of booze and flop down on the ugly green sofa for the night. He had time to make sure his brother was okay now.
He pulled back the tarp to let Jasper out, then went searching for the toy car, the last thing Jas had from their mom. A few moments later he found it under the edge of a blackberry bush. Careful to avoid the painful spikes, he managed to retrieve it with only a couple of minor scratches.
“Here you go, buddy, I found it.” He turned and offered it to Jasper but his attention was on the house. “Don’t worry, I won’t let him touch you again.” And when his brother looked at him with eyes that knew more than any five-year-old kid outta know about pain, Tommy’s gut tightened with a white-hot rage.
He fingered the wallet in his pocket he’d also stolen from the teacher. Soon. Soon he’d have enough to get them far away from here. And they weren’t never coming back.
I hope you try Summer Lovin’ and if you enjoy the book please consider leaving a review. I’d appreciate it, thanks!