Once more, my heart broke upon hearing the story; the horrible story that most turn away from. This time, the news came from Idaho. A baby had a fractured skull and brain bleed. The infant was a victim of shaken baby syndrome and was severely malnourished, getting only enough calories to keep his heart beating.
It is a story that you likely did not read or hear about. It is a story that most will turn away from, and instead focus on the latest Hollywood gossip, read about the latest reality tv star, concern themselves more with their favorite sports team. The truth is that it is horrible story that most simply refuse to acknowledge because it is too simply that; too horrible.
As a foster parent of over 50 children from foster care the past 15 years, I have witnessed up close what you have refused to look at. I have lived with it, as you chose not to help these children.
Four year old Michael and his four month old sister Melinda came to live with us several years ago. stayed with us for four months, as well. The two had been placed in our home due to the ever increasing opioid drug abuse of their mother, and the father was nowhere to be found.
Michael had been horrifically abused by his mother, so much so that it continues to haunt both my wife and I to this very day. When Michael first came to our home, my wife discovered small, black, circular marks on his scalp. These marks were in fact burns, cigarette burns, from his mother. Frighteningly enough, the burns were not only on his scalp, covered by his blond hair, but on his tongue, the roof of his mouth, and even on his genitals. His mother, the one person who was to love him the most, to protect him, and to guide him through life; the person who had given birth to him, had hurt him so terribly, had scarred him so appalling, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Indeed, the young boy did not show any emotion while in our home, not joy, pain, sadness, curiosity, fear, or any other emotion. His young sister, a tiny baby, suffered from Meth addiction, and was our first excursion into that sad world. Their time with us was one of sadness, fatigue, as baby Melinda screamed day and night from her suffering from Meth.
“Are you willing to look straight at this ugly truth, and help save a child from abuse?”
Children in the very city you live in are victims of this horrific crime. Today. As you read this. Furthermore, the abusers and perpetrators may be your colleagues at work, members of your church, your neighbors, and even those who come to your annual family reunion. Again, as you read this!
Michael and Melinda are just one of the stories of the children who have come to live in my home. Studies show that up to five million children in the United States experience and/or witness domestic violence each year. Whether it’s watching an act of physical or sexual abuse, listening to threats or sounds of violence, or viewing the evidence of such abuse in a victim in the signs of bleeding, bruises, torn clothing, or broken items, the effects are damaging to a child, in a variety of ways. Children in our nation are suffering from an epidemic of child abuse from those who proclaim to love them the most. Indeed, simply witnessing domestic abuse can also be traumatic for a child.
Children around you are falling victim to domestic violence and abuse. It is up to you to help bring an end to it.
Will you turn away from your sports team, reality tv show, and Hollywood gossip long enough to do it? Are you willing to look straight at this ugly truth, and help save a child from abuse?
Somewhere, a child near you hopes so.
Dr. John DeGarmo is an international expert on foster care. He has been a foster parent for 15 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 50 children come through their home. He is a consultant to foster care agencies, child welfare organizations, and legal firms, as well as a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system. He is the author of several foster care books, including The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe, and Stable Home and writes for several publications. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.