As the newest political firestorm surrounding the IRS unfolded, something much more horrific was unfolding also. As Tea Party-affiliated groups demanded investigation into IRS practices, desperate grandparents and a devoted teacher begged for an investigation into multiple, ongoing bruises covering an eight-year-old little boy. As President Obama took the national stage and declared the actions of the IRS ‘outrageous', the painful sobs of a helpless child echoed in vain.
In addressing the behavior of the IRS unfairly targeting Tea Party-affiliated groups, Obama insisted, "I have no patience for it. I will not tolerate it." Meanwhile, another child died of torture and abuse, all under the nose of children's protective services (CPS), the government agency charged with protecting children.
Why do we have patience for that? Why do we tolerate that?
Eight-year-old Gabriel died last week after suffering from multiple injuries including broken ribs, a skull fracture, and burns. His mother and her boyfriend have been arrested in conjunction with his death. His grandparents who had previously raised him before he was returned to the custody of his mother tried in vain to get authorities to heed their concerns regarding his safety. His teacher made calls to Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services after he came to school with bruises on his face and told her his mother shot him with a BB gun.
The responsibility for his death rests squarely on the shoulders of those who inflicted harm. However, the responsibility to protect him when his mother failed him belongs to the government.
Which government agency needs more scrutiny and more transparency with the ultimate goal of providing better services: the IRS or CPS systems nationwide? Where should we direct our outrage and intolerance of failure? You could ask children like Marcus Fiesel, Gabriel Myers, Vyctoria Sandoval, Isaac Lethbridge, Summer Phelps, Damarcus Jackson, Alize Vick, and Neveah Gallegos. Oh wait. You can't ask them. They're all dead. Utter failure on the part of the child protective and/or family court systems cost these children their lives. Their numbers measure in the hundreds across the nation.
The Tea Party-affiliated groups may have been subject to invasive questioning. Were they subject to torture, starvation, broken bones, and burns as these children had been? These groups may have had their right to freedom of association violated. These children had a right to safety and freedom from abuse but suffered brutal deaths on the government's watch. Which is more outrageous?
Unfortunately these children don't have a political voice, an ability to organize, or financial resources to impact change. They are chattel, property of their parents even if their parents allow them to be tortured and killed. Why else would Gabriel's dead body sit in the coroner's office because his mom is in jail but refuses to allow it to be released to next of kin? Even in death, Gabriel is not free from the heinous, long arm of his mother.
The time has come to channel our outrage and intolerance effectively to improve the child welfare system and laws designed to protect children. Too often, our government makes a lousy parent and a lousy protector. That will not change until we all get involved and use our voice to speak for abused and neglected kids. Our collective voice is the most powerful one these children have. We must strengthen and use it.
We need to see our president or political leaders on a national stage demanding transformation of a system charged with our most important task: protecting vulnerable children and families. Then the rest of us need to roll up our sleeves and do what we can to help.
Anything less than that is outrageous.
Visit http://www.invisiblekidsthebook.com/ to learn how you can help.