also of note
The Indianapolis Star has been running a superb series of studies on child abuse in Indiana, kicking off with the disturbing information that child deaths from abuse and neglect are underreported. The stories are outrageous and touching, such as this one about a jury pool that bought a headstone for a murdered 3-month-old baby after convicting her father of her murder. The series represents, in my view--exactly what a local newspaper should do: Bring unacceptable situations to the public's attention. I certainly hope the series provokes the kind of public indignation that gets things done.
Of course, as one of the stories points out, the issue of protecting children from abusive parents is ticklish. And Child Protective Services is underfunded and dealing with conflicting mandates. But I must beg to differ with the government-can't-do-anything-right types. I'm no more in favor of a Big Brother-style Child Protective Services than I am a domestic intelligence agency. But I would also hold that a child's right not to spend days blinded and parylized before being murdered, or burned on the back with a hot iron, or having their ribs crushed by heavy blows, trumps parental rights. While no law can prevent any child from ever dying at a caregiver's hands, one recurring theme in these stories is an established--but often ignored, concealed or overlooked--pattern of abuse prior to the child's death. I firmly believe that it's the state's role to intervene for abused children, especially as it seems family and friends are sometimes reluctant to do so. And more importantly--exactly what could any private entity do about it?