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View Diary: "I Won't Mess Up Anymore!", a desperate child pleads (Updated) (151 comments)

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  •  I cut the family zero slack here (24+ / 0-)

    Any adult would recognize this is beyond the bounds of human decency. There were three adults in that family. Did any of them go to social services? Did they ask a school counselor to try to help the child? They certainly did not reach out to neighbors for help, but given their neighbors' eagerness to ignore the abuse when it was in their face, perhaps that would have been fruitless.

    I grew up with undiagnosed asperger's and ADHD. Although not the same as being mentally handicapped, my young father and stepmother could not understand or deal with me (not that I was difficult -- they just did not understand some of my seeming disobedience was an inability to understand social cues and an apparent lack of common sense was an asperger's driven lack of common sense). We were also poor. I did experience some physical and mental abuse, but when it got to the point where my father felt he wanted to kill me, he called a social worker and told her and I went into foster care.

    There are avenues to find help for anyone the least bit interested in seeking it. They may not be ideal, but they are typically better than being chained to a pole, deprived of education, food, and sometimes shelter, and -- based on the boy's reaction to the basement door opening -- being beaten.

    Neither my father nor stepmother graduated high school. My father collected social security disability so neither worked outside the home, and we lived in a very small town with no close neighbors. In other words, my parents were uneducated, socially isolated people with few resource and a tendency to mistreat me (not my stepmother's children, however). Yet even they knew there was a line you do not cross as a human being.

    That family knew they were doing something very wrong. They did not tell the school they would be removing their son from school so they could chain him in the basement. The stepmother didn't want the police to see the boy chained up. They get no benefit of the doubt or sympathy from me. This boy was mentally challenged according to reports, which is not the same as mental illness. There are a lot of resources through the school for these children and often through state and federal agencies. It may not be adequate (and once this boy is 18, that is another sad story), but it can alleviate the burdens.

    If there fear was simply that he was a danger, then why starve him to where he became emaciated? Why not just keep him down there without starving him? They clearly went the extra mile to make his life as miserable as possible. I hope they have a long time locked in a small space of their own to contemplate that.

    We Won't Let Republicans Replace Medicare with GOP Vouchercare!

    by CatM on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 08:08:17 AM PST

    •  This story is so apalling that I can't help but (16+ / 0-)

      wonder if the parents have some mental challenges as well.  The 24 year old brother aparently thought it was OK for his younger brother to be starved and then chained to a pole for eating a whole bowl of fruit.  Cruel, weird behavior.

      I feel very sorry for how you were treated as a child also, CatM.  I hope you had caring foster parents.  It is so obvious that America needs to do a better job of caring for children and supporting families, no matter what the unmet need might be.

      This is one more example of important work that is not being done in this country while millions of able, intelligent Americans are out of work.  

      So ridiculous.

      •  You are probably right (7+ / 0-)

        that the family has some mental challenges, although it does not sound like they were mentally handicapped like the boy was.

        In the brother's case, that can be trickier to understand. It would be interesting to know whether he is the stepmother's son or the father's son from a previous marriage. If he's the father's son and the father is abusive, perhaps he was more fearful than anything.

        In my experience, however, sometimes siblings in a household where only one is being abused also see the abused child as a victim or are brainwashed into believing that child is "bad." When I was 15, my 15-year-old stepsister and my 9-year-old half-sister saw my father drag me downstairs by my hair and punch me several times on the night I went into Foster Care for the third and final time. Their mother did nothing to intervene, of course.

        When we were all adults, I later learned that they had convinced my younger siblings that I had been a "bad kid" and that's why I had to leave. I then asked my half-sister (in her 20s then) in what way a kid who never drank, smoked, did drugs, or swore; earned straight A's; read a dozen books a week; did any chores requested for fear of being punished and even volunteered to rinse out the soiled cloth baby diapers; and was never violent or destructive was a "bad kid" who deserved to be punched in the head.

        My same-aged stepsister said I should stop "pretending" that I had been abused--that my dad was hard on all of us (not really true) and that I had deserved it, but she could never explain for what.  She also will not acknowledge that her mother was also abusive to me and hasn't talked to me in years because of it.

        When we were both girls, she used to enjoy telling me that our parents hated me, that I was ugly and so bad that even my own father didn't love me, etc. I think something happens to the mindset of siblings who witness abuse--they feel required to rationalize it because it is hard to reconcile the natural love you feel for your parents with them doing things you know are terribly wrong. And maybe they have a little PTSD themselves -- surely witnessing abuse of another person is a type of abuse in and of itself.

        I also think when someone in a group (whether a family or some other type) ends up being perceived as a victim, people develop a pecking order themselves and get in line to victimize the victim.

        I'm sure if we ever figure out at the macro level why seemingly good people join in with others to commit unspeakable acts that seem out of character (Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Serbia, etc.), we can apply that on a micro level.

        You don't need to feel sorry for how I was treated. I know that it sounds absolutely bizarre, but I am extremely good at "integrating" in social situations as an Aspie, and I actually think the abuse I experienced contributed to that. I certainly would not recommend it because there are much, much better ways of teaching people, but I will begrudgingly admit that it forced me to learn to fake being "normal" much better.

        I simply cannot blame society for it, however. The only thing I blame society (or at least social programs) for is (1) thinking the best place for every kid is with his or her biological parents; (2) delusionally believing that 3 to 6 months of family counseling fixes whatever it is that causes people to be abusive; and (3) not listening to kids enough or caring enough to do something when kids reach out to them for help.

        In a most non-liberal fashion, I believe very few people who are inclined to be abusive ever change and we need to dispel this ill-conceived belief we have as a society that people can often be rehabilitated and that with enough support we can fix and reunite broken families.

        My foster home (which I went to repeatedly) was a good foster home, and I would have been better off if I had just been left there instead of well-meaning social workers trying to "reunite" the family.

        Yes, some people change, but too often, we use the small handful of success stories to justify applying that approach to everyone, when more often than not, it doesn't work.

        In this case above, those parents should never be allowed to raise children. In my view, they have forfeited that right and no amount of counseling is going to rehabilitate someone who can starve and beat their own child. You have to have something really wrong with you to allow anger and hate to overcome the natural biological impulse to love your offspring to such an extent.

        We Won't Let Republicans Replace Medicare with GOP Vouchercare!

        by CatM on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 11:24:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You must be an incredibly strong person, CatM, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Minnesota Deb, Cassandra Waites

          and I can see that your upbringing probably contributed to that.  I always admire the ability to turn adversity into strength.  

          I can see that siblings who witness such abuse react in complicated ways--- and I think growing up a witness to this sort of abuse could be another kind of abuse in itself.  Your stepsister for some reason learned to pile on with some verbal abuse of her own rather than to allow herself to feel sympathy for you.  She was, in a way, a participant, and can't admit that now--- I'm thinking that she didn't gain strength from her upbringing the way you did.

          I agree that we should find ways to get kids out of abusive homes, and we should listen to kids when they ask for help.  In the case featured in this diary--- the parents are unfit, for sure.  I wonder why neighbors who found this boy sleeping outside in the cold, locked out of the house, etc... did not report it to authorities sooner.  

          I hope someone will care for him now.

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