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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Child abuse cases sicken and frustrate

Friday, September 12, 2003

I don't know about you but when I read stories about child abuse cases, especially those that end tragically, I am both sickened and frustrated. It's the frustration that really bothers me. I hope eventually society can arrive at an answer concerning why some people can inflict cruelty at such a high level. It's a human flaw that is simply beyond my comprehension.

If I had the stomach for it, I could write this column every day of the week with similar stories of inhumane acts against children. But I doubt it would make any difference. Yet then some of these horrors come along and I just feel compelled to share it with readers. I hope you don't mind.

Bryon Griffin was sentenced to two life terms in prison this week for killing his girlfriend's 3 year-old son. He choked him, beat him with a paddle and burned him with a hair dryer. He held the boy down with his head in a toilet and slammed him against a wall.

But Griffin is not totally to blame. The boy's father had custody of the youth because of a prior abuse allegation against the boyfriend. The boy's mother was not at home at 2:30 a.m. when the beatings finally ended in death. Both of those adults will also serve prison time for their lack of efforts to stop the abuse.

When the boy was finally taken to the hospital, he was bleeding from every conceivable part of his body. Even callous medical and law enforcement officials were stunned by the level of abuse. And yet, keep in mind, Bryon Griffin was a known child abuser to all of those involved.

So here's what will happen. Griffin will go to prison and eventually die there. The boy's mother and natural father too will spend time behind bars but they will eventually return to society. And the rest of us will remain wondering how someone could inflict this level of abuse toward another human being.

There is no way of knowing what goes on in the millions of homes in this nation. But cases like this illustrate the need for society's involvement at a greater level in the lives of those dysfunctional people who seem to increase in numbers daily. Involvement must not always take the form of government intervention. Neighbors must look out for neighbors. Relatives often know the dark secrets that the remainder of society ignores. Churches, civic groups, you name it - we can all help to assure that the low elements of society are monitored and their actions watched. It may not have helped in this case. And it may never solve the problem. But we fail when we fail to try.

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