There's been a lot of controversial discussion lately on the SV Moms Blog about on what constitutes bad parenting. Parents taking their kids on the campaign trail. A toy-gun wielding tot. There's been a lot of opinions and some heated debate. And us blog addicts and (some blog trolls) have all been glued, if not slightly entertained by it. But I've got a category of bad parents who I don't think any of you is going to argue with or be entertained by: child abusers.
I've been sick to my stomach in last month. Not just because I'm twelve weeks pregnant, but because of all the recent news stories of children being abused, tortured, and even killed by their own parents. Just in the Bay Area in the last month, there's the heavily covered story of the 6-year-old San Jose boy who was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend; the Richmond mother charged with murder and torture of her 8-year-old; and the 22 month old from San Jose who was cruelly tortured by his meth-head mother and boyfriend. Amazingly, this little boy is still alive, but faces incredible needs--medically, socially, emotionally, psychologically (read the Merc story to see how you can donate to a trust fund set up for him).
And if you google this topic, or visit Parents Behaving Badly you'll find story after story after story: parents drowning their kids, setting them on fire, overdosing them with OTC drugs, leaving them in a hot car while visiting a brothel, on and on. Very depressing. A good way to toss your cookies--fast. I've been so affected by these stories it that I often have to put down the paper, turn off the TV, or shut the browser and block it out of my mind. I do that to protect myself, so that I can function the rest of the day.
But I'm thinking my response is wrong. How many people, like me, turn away from these news stories, block it out of their minds, and don't even talk about it, because it's just too painful, too unfathomable, that we live in a world where atrocities like this can happen almost every day it seems. So I'm thinking we need a different tactic. Let's be completely outraged, get engaged, and see what can be done that isn't already being done to prevent such tragedies. So, outside of more resources going into child protective agencies (a possible discussion for a presidential candidate), I have a wild idea-let's try to keep the violent criminals, drug addicts, and psychopaths from having children.
How? Well, that's complicated but here's a few ideas. Maybe we could start with more parental screening in hospitals. Something a little more extensive than bringing your car-seat into the recovery room for the nurses approval before you can leave the hospital (how does she know it's even installed correctly in your vehicle?) Maybe, while admitted, they could do background checks?
I recently got a hand out from the California Department of Social Services from my son's preschool regarding caregiver background checks. It states, "A person convicted of a crime such as murder, rape, torture, kidnapping, crimes of sexual violence or molestation against children cannot by law be given an exception that would allow them to live in or work in a licensed child care home or center." Well...hmmm...maybe we could take this a step further and maybe not let those people have kids either.
In most state--California included--criminals are not allowed to vote, that right that is taken away when you commit a felony. So...how about we take away the right--or the ability--of a murderer, rapist, torturer, kidnapper, or child molester to bear children? Maybe along with whatever prison sentence, they should be sterilized as well. Crazy? Maybe, but consider this: Child protective services has the power to take kids out of abusing homes--often times too late. So why not step in before that happens? I KNOW involuntary sterilization reeks of government control, is a scary proposition, opens a whole host of moral and ethical implications, and is probably not even constitutional, but....bring on the debate and whatever ideas you have because I'm tired of seeing children suffer at the hands of cruel, evil, sick people.