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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

In-home visits could ensure child safety

Thursday, December 5, 2002

"We have too many people in this country unable to raise a child."

The mom was too drunk to drive her twin 5-month-old boys to the hospital for treatment of multiple rat bites. It happened Monday night in Aurora, Mo., and the 22-year-old mother is now in jail. But jailing the woman is just the first step in what should be a complete examination of the social system in Missouri.

I most certainly don't blame the social system specifically for this tragic incident. But rest assured, this woman was receiving some form of state or federal financial assistance. It seems to me - though I don't have the solution - that receiving those checks puts some burden of proof on a parent that they, in fact, have the minimum skills to raise a child.

Here's what the police found when they went to the woman's house. Police saw rodents scurry past. There were holes in the walls and drug paraphernalia, liquor bottles and other debris strewn about, with rats and mice running around. The house was cold. Space heaters were being used to warm the house. Part of the kitchen and bathroom floor had been removed, and no food, milk or diapers were found in the house.

The twins were strapped in car seats in the attic where the rat attack occurred. The rats had bit the lips, arms, hands and feet of the infants.

I do not believe this incident in isolated. It is truly the extreme. But I believe there are thousands of similar situations across Missouri where children are placed in harm's way while the rest of society stands by - perhaps innocent, perhaps naive, perhaps negligent.

Is there a way to conduct mandatory, in-home visits with every parent receiving child assistance? Maybe that's a policy and I am just ignorant. Maybe there is inadequate manpower to accomplish this pipe dream. But had that policy been in place, perhaps these twins would not have suffered the abuse they did.

Cases like this sicken the public. But then, just as quickly, they are forgotten. I've written too many times to think the public keeps these cases in mind and works toward a solution.

Here's what I believe. We have too many people in this country unable to raise a child. They lack the intelligence and maturity and, quite often, they repeat the mistakes made by their parents. As a result, too many children live in horrible conditions that should not be accepted in our modern society.

It will never happen because Americans cherish their privacy and freedoms. But someone should suggest door-to-door visits with every home to assure that the safety of the child. It will never happen. But it should.

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