Thursday, March 17, 2016

Parents arrested in death of toddler

I'm not sure what's sadder--the fact that a toddler who died last month weighed only 10 pounds at the time or the fact that I wasn't surprised to hear that.

I'm sure you remember the story. A girl, not yet two, was left in a carseat for 13 hours. When her mother checked on her and gave her a drink after running errands, she noticed something was wrong and took her to the hospital, where she unfortunately died. Not long after, the coroner announced that preliminary autopsy results would not be released "so as to in no way compromise the accuracy and completeness of the ongoing investigation into the death of [the child], to which I said, "Personally, this makes me concerned that this is going to end up a pretty sad, disturbing case."

And here we are not even a month later, and it's looking like I was right. The coroner is now saying the cause of death was malnutrition and dehydration, and both parents have been arrested. They were also found to have been living in "deplorable" conditions with no running water or sewage.

This entire thing is sad and disturbing, to be sure. This child deserved much better, as do all children, but there are still a lot of unknowns here. It would be easy to criticize the parents, but we should also remember that drug use or mental illness could be a factor. And it's also important to remember that taking that into consideration is by no means making excuses for or justifying what happened here--it's merely a reminder that people aren't always in a good, healthy frame of mind and that others around them can pay the price as a result. It's also important to remember that wouldn't make this okay. And that Facebook comments wishing violence or death upon these parents does no good to anyone, nor does expressing that make one a better person.

I have some lingering questions. Did no one notice the child was just 10 pounds and try to intervene? What about the health of the couple's other two children, who were placed in protective custody?

And finally, as always, if you see something, say something. And if you're struggling with mental-health or substance-abuse issues, please reach out to someone. There's no shame in asking for help.

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