Monday, August 23, 2010

When the News Hits Too Close to Home

There are times when some stories, particularly those regarding kids with special needs, hit a little too close to home. 

This is one of them. 

As some of you know, I work in the child abuse field. While I've seen and heard things that are not to be believed, my actual work has me more removed from the day-to-day horrors that my colleagues deal with 24/7.  (Literally, 24/7.  My colleagues have been roused out of bed at 3 a.m. with calls from police about a case and the need to talk with a child now.)

And as some of you know, there was some hesitation before I took this job. I can't work in this field, I told The Husband.  I just don't think I can do it. 

Unspoken were the reasons for my hesitation.  We knew what they were.  Our kids are exactly the average age (8.75) of the 1,480 kids who came through the doors last year of the organization for which I work.  Girls are most likely to be victims of abuse than boys.  People with special needs are especially vulnerable. 

So, no thank you.  Too close to home. 

Too close to home wound up being among the many reasons why I gratefully - and yes, now gladly -  accepted this offer, one that I am very happy that I did. 

One of the things that has been reinforced with this job is what I instinctively, as a parent, knew before - that as parents we can't be everywhere but we need to be vigiliant. 

But still.

But what about the times when our vigiliance doesn't work, when it fails us?

That's what happened to Kim Stagliano's daughter Bella, who is seen on videotape (allegedly) being abused on the bus by one of her special education caregivers.  Kim wrote about her family's now-in process nightmare and several other bloggers, including the always eloquent diary of a mom, have done so as well. 

Kim is known to many in the autism community as an advocate, an activist.  Kim's blog, her work, and upcoming book are fairly new to me.  (I recently learned of her book through one of my book blogging sites.)  But aside from all that, she is like so very many of us - a mom,  of three girls (all with autism).

You would think - you would think! - that the presence of videocameras on a school bus would keep our kids safe.  You would think that the presence of videocameras would be enough of a deterrent for a 24 year old special education aide to think once, twice, three times - however many times as necessary - before even contemplating the mere notion of hurting an innocent, defenseless child.  You would think that someone would have intervened.  (Say, perhaps, the bus driver?  Not in this case.  Because in this case, the bus driver was reportedly the alleged perpetrator's mom.)

My heart breaks for Kim and her family as they live the nightmare of many, many parents and many parents of children with special needs. 

They are living the story that so many of us fear.

They are living the story that is, sadly, lurking in the shadows on the doorsteps - and at the bus stops - of so many of our children's lives.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Amy said...

You are a hero for working in the field of child abuse. I have some understanding of how difficult and emotionally draining it can be. I was a prosecutor for several years in Brooklyn and planned to spend most of my career in the child abuse area. Unfortunately I had to leave the DA's office because of health problems but I worked in the child abuse area of social services for several years before I had to retire on disability. There were way more tough days than happy ones. But the work you do is so important and necessary.

My heart goes out to Kim and her family. It's appalling what her daughter experienced and no one came to her defense. When I hear stories like this one, I wonder what gets into people. How does any one hurt an innocent child.

Thank you for sharing this story and for letting your readers know that Kim has a blog.

~ Amy

Amy said...

I agree with Amy above, you really are a hero and thank you for all that you do to keep kids safe. It is so sad to hear stories like this, I hope that things get better for their family and that it never happens again - to any kid.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Oh, what a nightmare. Many well meaning people tell us "oh he'll be alright" or "he'll have to learn playground survival skills" or "he'll have to toughen up" when we ask about who is going to look after our son in various situations. Most of his peers are very nice but there are always a few who will take advantage of the situation.

You are an angel for doing what you are doing but I don't think I could bear it.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Thanks for the kind words, y'all, but you're giving me way too much credit. Truly. The real heroes in this field are the ones who do the interviews of the kids. I've sat in on some of them and my God, they are heartbreaking. Me, I just raise the money so that they can do what they do. Much more removed, but still ...

Anyway, thank you.

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

Thank you. Very much. Thank you.


Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I am terrified of the world out there for my son. I am a SAHM of my son who is only 2. I fear the day he rides the bus, goes to school, goes to camp, whatever.

I trust no one and it is a scary place to be.

But working in a crisis shelter for kids, I see parents who do abuse their kids or leave them in the hands of others that do.

I read Kim's blog and wow, powerful stuff. Thanks for sharing.