Stories like this one piss me off.
For those not wishing to read the WaPo article, here's a quick rundown: In early January, federal marshalls went to the rented home of a woman named Banita Jacks to serve an eviction notice. In the process of evicting Ms. Jacks, the badly decomposed bodies of her four children were found in an upstairs bedroom. The oldest child had been stabbed and the three younger children starved to death. The story horrified the city and Mayor Adrian Fenty launched an investigation wherein it was discovered that the city's social services mechanism had broken down and failed to alert proper government agencies to the plight of this family.
Now it seems, the family is looking to sue the city and hold it responsible for the deaths of four girls. And that's where I get pissed off.
I'm getting tired of hearing story after story after story where some young person dies--either because of neglect or violence--and the family lays the blame at the feet of the government. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard where bereaved families have said something akin to "it was the school's/social service's/health department's responsibility to look after my baby and now s/he is dead."
And that's where I say, "Whoa! Back up the train parental unit." Responsibility for the health and well-being of your child is yours and yours alone. And, in a broad, sweeping generalization I'm about to make, if you can't handle it, you need to be in closer contact with your extended family. Granted, in Ms. Jacks' case, it's been shown she wasn't mentally competent and I'm sure there are many cases with similar circumstances. But, as an extended family member, if you haven't heard from someone in a while, don't you think you should reach out to them and find out how they're doing and how you can help? If you can't or the family member won't allow you, then and only then, should you enlist the aid of government agencies whose job it then is to serve and protect its citizens--especially its voiceless ones--from harm.
Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Perhaps this is an extreme application, but one of the problems with so many in our country (and in others. There was recently a story out of the U.K. about a device that emits a sound that repels children and young adults from congregating in front of stores and certain public areas in an effort to combat loitering. The solution to that problem is a) parents need to know where their kids are and b) kids need to be home and not out loitering) is their lack of personal responsibility for the lives they bring into this world. Many of us have developed a mindset that nothing is our responsibility and we can pass the buck again and again and again without consequence to ourselves.
The family of Banita Jacks shouldn't be suing the D.C. government for failure to save her daughters. The family of Banita Jacks should be gathering together and looking inward and asking themselves, "Where did we fail in our responsibility?" and "What are we going to personally do to ensure something like this never, ever happens again?"
Sickness update: SSDD. The worst part is the perpetual headache and fever I've been fighting all week. I think it's time to call the doctor.