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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Parents, the system failed in their roles

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Surely by now you've heard the horrible tale of the four starving boys found in the New Jersey home. The oldest, a 19-year-old, weighed just 45 pounds when neighbors alerted police that he was rummaging through garbage in an apparent search for food.

The boys' adoptive parents are now in jail and other children in the home have been removed by the state. But as is often the case, that's not the end of the story.

Caseworkers with the Division of Youth and Family Services had visited the home 38 times over the past two years and yet, not one reported any problems in the home. And you may remember, this is not the first such case in New Jersey which is rapidly gaining a national reputation for neglect and government bureaucracy-gone-bad.

Police say the boys were locked out of the family kitchen and fed a diet of uncooked pancake batter, peanut butter and jelly and cereal. And thus, all four are malnourished.

The excuse given by DYFS officials? "This case apparently just fell through the cracks."

Well that excuse is unacceptable. The caseworker should face criminal charges and that's exactly what is apparently in the works.

Now explain this to me. The caseworker reported no problems even though the utilities had been turned off for the last six months, the kitchen doors were locked shut and the four boys were obviously starving. A handful of caseworkers have already been fired and more dismissals are coming. But it should not stop there.

If government workers are so lazy and irresponsible, then that falls into the arena of criminal neglect on their part. The parents most obviously should spend years behind bars. And their cell mates should be the caseworkers who ignored this tragedy.

I obviously don't understand the "system," but children living in a house without electricity alone should be a reason to remove those kids immediately. That should be standard policy. The other aspects of this case go far beyond any excusable reasoning. And someone should pay a heavy price.

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