I had lunch yesterday with a colleague who is a child therapist and works with young children who have been abused or neglected. A dozen years ago we started working cases side-by-side. She taught me almost everything I know about young children and largely shaped the ideas portrayed in my book, Invisible Kids, regarding the importance of relationships as vulnerable children grow and develop.
We sat across from each other in booth at a crowded Panera swapping horror stories we'd read in the local paper or heard on the news in recent weeks.
Did you hear about the nine-month-old baby who died of burns from a heater? Did you hear about the two-year-old beaten to death by his teen father? What about the mom who over-dosed on heroin in a restaurant restroom and left her three young kids sitting at a table in the dining area? What do you think of the three-year-old little girl who was found dead in her bed? Did you catch the story about the two-year-old who was severely scalded with hot water?
Not your typical lunchtime conversation, to say the least. Maybe it should be.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what has been happening in the past MONTH alone in our neck of the woods. Horror stories like these dot the landscape of our daily paper, sandwiched between news on the economy and the silliness of city council meetings. Do we even notice these stories? Do we think about the surviving siblings of battered babies and what their lives look like?
We need to, hard as it is to come face-to-face with children's pain.
I'm sorry. I wish I could spread happy sunshine about how we live in a wonderful world and stop there. But I can't. The reality is that we do live in a wonderful world. And because we do, we must step into this hell and help these kids and families find a way out.
Today, please visit my Invisible Kids Facebook Group and click on a link from Zero to Three that gives you information about using your political voice to help young children. Read up on your ability to inform public policy. It won't take you long.
I have faith that our most vulnerable children can live in wonderful worlds. We just need to help make that happen.