Category Archives: Child Neglect

Fleeing From Life-Saving Cancer Treatment

Police authorities are on a nation-wide search for a mother and her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son who fled after refusing chemotherapy that doctors say could save the boy’s life.  The two left their Minnesota home after a doctor’s appointment and X-ray showed his tumor had grown.  A court has issued an arrest warrant (ruling the mother in contempt of court), and has ordered that the boy be placed in foster care and immediately evaluated for treatment by a cancer specialist . 

His parents insist on alternative medicines, citing religious beliefs.  That led authorities to seek custody, as the court ruled that the boy’s parents were medically neglecting their son, as his form of cancer is considered highly curable with chemotherapy and radiation.

The parents believe in the philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and such.  However, lately the dad has jumped ideological ships and is now agreeing that his son needs the best treatment with a doctor of medicine.

All over the blogosphere, you can read arguments as to whether or not the court should be able to countermand the parents.  My opinion?  Absolutely yes…when it is clear that the child is in imminent harm and there are the means to rescue him.

This child is in imminent harm because of his parents and the cancer itself.  Since the cancer is likely curable, it is unconscionable for his life to be taken by parents who choose some extreme religious views which put their child on the road to death.  Secondly, the child, 13, cannot read due to some learning disability.  I question whether or not the parents helped him with that problem either.  Since the boy cannot read, he is relying on the “wisdom” of his parents, who are not giving him the truth, which is “chemo will save you and herbs will let you die in pain.”

Personally, I am very respectful of most (not all) religious views.  I am completely disrespectful of religious views which result in taking the life of an innocent – in this case, robbing the life of an innocent child.

Nebraska’s Safe-Haven Law

The great state of Nebraska was the last state of the union to sign what became the most comprehensive child safe haven law in America.  In most states, the law specifies that an infant can be left at a “safe-haven” – usually meaning a hospital or a fire department…somewhere the child will get immediate attention – without the parent having to suffer any legal ramifications.  Since the law took effect in July, some twenty-three children have been brought to safe-havens…some across state lines.

Obviously, this idea came about as a means of saving lives.  The thought was that now people who might toss their babies into dumpsters or abuse them would have the opportunity to save their lives by putting them in the care of responsible people.  From here, appropriate child care would be found through adoptions or the care of appropriate and willing relatives.  I always thought this was a great idea.

I had fits hearing criticism that this is abandonment or passing on responsibility.  Children in the hands of parents addicted to drugs or alcohol, suffering from various mental illnesses and overwhelmed, barely functional and generally desperate, or simply unwilling are at great risk – and if even one of them has the compassion and good sense to make use of a safe-haven…then we have saved a life…not only from death…but from abuse and a childhood leading only to troubles and problems.

Society is always better off when unwanted children have opportunities with adoptive families, quality foster-families, or placement with relatives who might not even have known there was a problem.  These children will have a better chance to grow up more adjusted, and that will obviously minimize bad “acting out” (sexual or criminal variety)  or substance abuse to quell emotional pain.

Unfortunately, because of criticism aimed at parents who take advantage of protecting their children rather than harming them, the Governor of Nebraska, Dave Heinemen, is calling a special session of the legislature to change the state’s unique safe-haven law – amending it so that it applies only to infants up to 3 days old.  I believe this is a HUGE mistake.

The communications office of the Governor prepared a statement for all Nebraskans explaining his point of view.  “Children from eight families have been left at hospitals under the safe haven law.  None of the children involved were infants and one was in immediate danger.  Courts are likely to require parents and guardians to participate in parenting classes, family therapy, conflict resolution or other services in an effort to reunite youth with their families.”

I’m delighted that the Governor points out that there are services that MIGHT…only might…eliminate the necessity for the safe-haven – but very often, parental termination might be in the best interest of children of any age.

The Governor points out that safe haven laws were not designed to allow families having difficulty with older youth and teenagers to “abandon their children or responsibilities as parents.”  Well, some parents just can’t or won’t be responsible…and abandonment would be to throw them out of the house…not deliver them to people who can help.

The Governor further suggests that parents considering safe-haven might turn to local health and human services offices…well, sometimes those are not as available or supportive or empowered to remedy a desperately difficult situation.

While I support his concern about protecting infants in danger…they are not the only children who need such protection.

I hope Nebraska keeps its child safe haven law and doesn’t dilute it down to 3-day newborns.

Shame on Oprah!

Here’s a simple test for you to contemplate: 
What do you get when you leave a golden retriever dog in a car on a hot day with the windows cracked a bit, and the dog dies from being cooked in that car oven?  Well, you get arrested for felony animal cruelty, with bail set at $20,000 while you await your trial, which, if convicted, will get you about three years in jail.

Okay, did you get that one right?  Probably.  Next test is:  What do you get when you leave a human child in a car on a hot day with the window not cracked a bit, and the child dies from being cooked in that car oven?  You get to be on Oprah! with an entire audience of dewy-eyed women exuding understanding and sympathy.

Disgusting.

Here are a few view responses to that program:
“I too saw that Oprah episode.  I scoffed and hissed as I watched the ‘sympathetic nodding’ of Oprah’s audience who were apparently relating to the distracted, forgetful ‘busyness’ of a mother who was asked by her husband to drop the baby off at day care that morning.  According to this woman, that was something her husband normally did, and it was outside of her daily routine.

She had a lot on her mind and was concentrating on what the day had in store for her at work.  That was her reason for forgetting the baby in the car!  I just wanted to scream!  Then a thought came to my little pea brain.  I wondered if these ‘understanding’ women in the audience would actually ‘understand’ if their husbands forgot their birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Mother’s Day because he was stressed and busy, concentrating on work, blah blah blah. Hmmmm…..yeah, I don’t think so; we all know what these women would think of their controlling, nasty, insensitive husbands for forgetting these important things in life.”

Oh yes, there was one thing that mother did remember.  With the forgotten, ignored, unimportant human being in the back seat, she evidently did make a hurried stop to get donuts for the staff, which means the child was also left alone in the car while she got those all-important calorie-laden munchies.

Right after I brought this travesty up on my radio program, I received an email from a single, twenty-three year old man, who had been watching this Oprah episode with his girlfriend of two years.  His immediate take was that the woman, the audience, and Oprah were being utterly disgusting, offering sympathy to a woman – a mother – who didn’t have her child on her mind.  It seems he went on and on to his girlfriend about the sacred obligations of a mother – i.e., putting the child first – and about how awful it was to see women clucking in sympathy for this neglectful mother and not for the buried child. His girlfriend was in sympathy with the audience and was aghast that he would have such a “cold, cruel” non-understanding point of view.   

He decided at that moment to break off with her, because he couldn’t see any woman with that point of view being his girlfriend, wife, and certainly not the mother of his precious children.

I tell you, I was very impressed that we have such real men among our young people today. 

When Oprah and other feminist, liberal, influential women take the point of view that children are not the first priority, when they coo over the “pain” of a mother who leaves her child to slowly cook to death in a car instead of storming the citadel demanding jail time for reckless endangerment, neglect and manslaughter, then we have women telling women to have compassion for irresponsibility, self-centeredness and murder.  When we have compassion for evil, we show disdain for the innocent victim.

Shame on Oprah.

Children “Forgotten” in Overheated Cars

Thank goodness for technology, that’s all I can say….no, it’s not all I can say after all.   The Associated Press reports that the number of children left to die in hot cars during the summer is rising.  Research shows that July is the month when most are “forgotten” by their parents to die a slow, horrible death in the back seat of cars.

Now, in addition to your cell phone, BlackBerry, iPod, iPhone, GPS device, Bluetooth and mini-tape recorder, you can buy a “ChildMinder.”  The device, costing about $60.00, consists of a sensor pad placed under the cushion of a car seat, and is wirelessly linked to an alarm on the parent’s key chain.  If the adult walks more than a few feet away from the car with the child still in the seat, the alarm will sound.  Wow!  What a great way to help a parent remember that they have a small human being with them!

In the past 10 years, almost 350 children have died in cars, because the parents or other caretakers simply forgot them.  Only about 7% of these sad deaths involved drugs or alcohol on the part of the adult.  Most cases involved dentists, nurses, ministers, college professors, concert musicians, social services board members, NASA engineers…you know, the pillars of the community.  These are the busy, self-involved folks always in a rush, for whom even dropping  kids off at a day-care center instead of tending to the little ones themselves was too difficult an assignment.

Astonishingly, these parents, when prosecuted at all (and only 50% of them are prosecuted), receive only three to five year prison sentences.  Also astonishing is how much “understanding” public support they get from those who say “It can happen to anyone.”  No, it can’t happen to anyone. 
It can happen only when parenting and family are not the highest priorities.  It can happen only when parents spend their time focused on maximizing their own personal fulfillment at the expense – and very existence – of their children.