I guess I’m a bit late getting on the boat, but April was Child Abuse Prevention month. There are pinwheels around town, both in people’s yards and at businesses. I’ve heard some people comment or ask about them. Okay, now what? I think we know that it affects many children. We are all sad when we learn of it,

There’s a boy in foster care who I’ve watched grow up. He’s been there for a little over a year now. When he entered the system (this time), his father was alive & intended to be reunited with him.  About 2 months later he died, leaving this little guy with no family.  Two years earlier his mother had died.

When I moved into this neighborhood, this little guy was a newborn. At first we were friends (more or less) with this family. Over time that disintegrated…but we kept up ties because we were very concerned for this child. This is a family that had no end of drama, & an excess of bad judgement. In fact, this Boy was the reason we kept up any relationship with these people.

Over the course of 7 years, each of the parents spent time in jail. One parent had on-going health/pain issues with compromised their ability to care for, and over time about, this child. The other parent was violent. Both had addictions. As a neighbor I tried (as did many of the neighbors) to keep tabs on him. Note when he missed school, was it for more than a day? If so, get one of us to put our eyes on him to see if there was signs of abuse. We(the neighborhood) and me personally, called DCFS several times over the years. Sometimes there was follow-up that we could see. Twice he WAS taken from the home. But we dropped the ball many times. Often, when you report something to DCFS, you are left with no feedback & the questions they ask you leave you feeling that it was a waste of time.

IT IS NOT. PLEASE PLEASE! If you see or suspect abuse or neglect, CALL! The only adults in this Boy’s life were not advocates for him. Maybe you’ll call on someone who will find it a hassle & uncalled for, BUT, perhaps it will be someone like the mom of this Boy & they NEED another advocate.

Right now this Boy is in a foster family. They are not going to adopt him. The family he was with 3 years ago very likely would have adopted him, but his family got their act together just long enough for him to return before spiraling completely out of control. The good news is, he was just on tv, on KSL’s Wednesday’s Child. The social worker told me there had been some inquiries about him. The bad news is, it took over a year for him to get there, & isn’t going to be in a permanent home before another several months go by at best. He has a LOT of baggage & isn’t likely to be “matched” easily. This is a wonderful boy who has done nothing wrong, other than the situation he was born into.

So, about the pinwheels… I am glad that people raise their awareness. It IS around us if we know where to look. But then what? I wish there was a check list. I wish when I was a younger adult that I better recognized a neglected child & knew what to do. The awareness is great, but what do we DO?