I write this is honor of Raijon Daniels, Jazzmin Davis and her twin brother (who is said to be the living version of Jazzmin), and Kyle R. Moreover, I write this for the sake of the children whose stories have not yet been told, for the sake of children in the system, and for the sake of children who, at this very moment, are being abused and even tortured behind closed curtains we pass every day.
Understanding how anyone could torture a child is incomprehensible, but the fact that a total of four adults have now been charged with torturing Kyle R. is a horror that is truly unbelievable. How do four similarly sick-minded individuals manage to find each other to carry out such evil against a child? No one wants to believe that perversion and cruelty surround us. Kyle's story, unfortunately, sheds a stark light on the truth that evil does, in fact, exist. And it lives near you.
Evil can be found anywhere power reigns. I believe the dictum Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Likewise, history has proven that all it takes for evil to exist is for good people to do nothing. So, here I am, doing what I can, doing something, anything, to try to counter the atrocities against children atrocities that are becoming all-too familiar.
One cannot help but conclude that social workers failed all of these kids. The system failed them miserably and tragically. And with budgetary problems causing social service layoffs, the system won't get any better. For this reason, it is more important than ever that those-who-can do all they can. We need to do better and we need to do more. And when I say we, I mean (first and foremost) social workers, teachers, school administrators, medical professionals, police officers, church workers, neighbors, philanthropists and legislators. I mean all of us.
The fact that these kids were all in the system is only one similarity. The other common thread that runs through the tattered lives of these tortured kids is this: they all disappeared from public school. It seems to me that the school system and child welfare workers (just as their job titles indicate) represent the front line of child welfare. So how is it that children in the system are allowed to disappear from school without their welfare being red-flagged and called into serious question?
Allowing children to disappear from school enables their abusers to inflict evils of the worst kind acted out in absolute isolation. As such, truancy (or lack of school registration) of a child in the system should sound a fierce alarm. From what I can tell, though, there is neither mandate nor ready means by which a school reports such absences to authorities.
Here's a thought: let us not continue to allow the life of a child to depend on the diligence and ability (or lack thereof) of one social worker. In this hi-tech age, we should have a means by which the various entities charged with ensuring the welfare of our children enter critical information into a database that would then red-flag cases of concern.
What I am suggesting is a national database that tracks critical data concerning those most vulnerable among us: children. Creating such would require expertise and money. (Any Silicon Valley philanthropists reading this?) Obtaining the necessary level of cooperation, among the various entities that comprise the system we currently bemoan, would most certainly require a legal mandate. (Any elected officials reading this?)
Making such a database reality won't be easy, but it's important. When human (and financial) resources are scarce, working harder is good, but working smarter is crucial.
For the sake of our children, please, anyone and everyone charged with responsibility for children, anyone knowledgeable of the system, who understands the complexities in the way outsiders cannot, and anyone who has the knowledge and the power to make a difference, I implore you: be diligent and passionate, and do your part to remedy this broken system!
Do this so that the deaths of Jazzmin and Raijon and the nightmares that Jazzmin's twin brother and Kyle R. have endured will not be in vain. Do this so that we don't have to read of more heart-wrenching, unnecessary horrors such as these ever again.