Leave a dog locked in a car and people rush to authorities, on the alert to avert the perceived threat.
By MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star
Chain your 17-year-old son to a pole, let him wander the neighborhood at all hours, shivering under trees at night, and the response wont be quite so immediate.
Eyes roll, people gossip. But time will pass before anything is done.
Parents have also gotten away with barricading a daughter in a closet, letting her soak in feces and urine.
And then there was the girl found locked in a bedroom.
The stories are familiar only because for each child, someone finally did do the right thing. Those suspicious individuals deserve accolades.
But isnt it also appropriate to begin questioning why this keeps happening?
Three times since June, children have been found in horrible conditions in Kansas City.
In at least two of the cases, adults who draw paychecks for intervening in such situations had been alerted previously or were involved before the children were finally rescued from their parental-imposed hells.
Charges were filed Tuesday against the father and stepmother in the most recent case, the 17-year-old boy who was found gaunt and handcuffed in a basement.
And the pathways to learning more are slamming shut.
In Missouri, a child has to die or meet the dire classification of being a near-fatality before there is even the possibility of opening records. And then, it is at the discretion of the director of social services.
If the overarching concern is the privacy of juveniles, fine. Its inexcusable if that rationale is being stretched to cover the tracks of a sickly bureaucracy.
Besides, what meets the definition of near-fatality?
Watching your child waste away from 130 to 103 pounds? Thats what happened to the 17-year-old. Time, more of the same abuse, is all that is needed to tick from hungry to malnourished to starving.
This is a systems failure. It might be due to funding, attitudes ingrained in policy and procedure, staffing issues, laws restricting the right of the state to intervene any number of factors. Better ways to help children wont be apparent until state officials are more forthcoming.
A special place in hell exists for parents who severely abuse their own children.
But adults stonewalling against scrutiny set up other sinful patterns.
The 17-year-old boy reached out repeatedly. He was reluctant to go home from school. People were concerned. In the end, a hotline call by a neighbor finally sparked appropriate help.
Bet if the young man had been a lonely dog, aid would have come faster.
To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.