March 18, 2007

Suffer Not The Little Children

I hate to keep writing about the same topic, but the death of Christopher Michael Barrios Jr. has been very troublesome in our community. Even though we all know it’s undeniably true, we all hate to think that something this dreadful could happen here. It’s shocking to realize just how many active monsters walk among us. Many details of Christopher’s death have not been released.

One comment to my previous post said that I am exposed to evil of the vilest sort. I am exposed to it more than most, but not nearly as much as some other folks I know. The investigators who deal with crimes against children are a special breed. They have to be able to deal with some of the most potently evil people on the planet without sacrificing their own humanity, their own sense of dignity, their compassion. I do not have the stomach or the heart for it.

The story of what happened to little Christopher has only just begun. We will have trials where the particulars of his life and his death will be revealed in full. We will be shocked and we will weep for this child who came face to face with the darkest side of our kind. And those responsible will have their day in court, and they will be exposed for what they are, aberrations, monsters, child killers.

Many times I have wondered why cases involving children seem to bother me so much more than others. I realize that crimes against children shock most of us more than other crimes, and rightly so. But with me it seems to cut very deep and take a long time to heal, even when I have no direct knowledge of anyone involved. I think the answer (at least partially) is because I know and remember on a very deep level how it felt/feels to be a defenseless child. Without going into particulars, my childhood was not without its trauma. Several generations of alcoholism, persistent poverty and lack of parental skills coalesced to make the childhood of myself and my siblings (and many of my cousins and neighbors) a rollercoaster ride though Hell. Don’t get me wrong, my childhood was no worse than some. In fact, compared to other stories I have heard (and have direct knowledge of) it was rather tame. But it was sufficiently cruel to stunt my development, emotionally and physically, to a marked degree.

Sadly, my story and even Christopher’s are not unique. Every day untold numbers of children suffer at the hands of strangers, but many more suffer at the hands of those who are supposed to love and protect them. I know of cases of children being shaken to death, of children put in scalding hot water, of children bashed against walls, of children smothered, of children burned with cigarettes, of men having sex with infants, of infants ejected from cars because no one strapped them in. I also know of a situation where a mother shook her child violently enough to cause major brain trauma. Yet she did nothing for weeks until another family member forced her to take the child to a doctor.

Make no mistake, this is the world we all live in. We have our jobs and our cars and our homes and our families that love us. We are the fortunate ones. So pray. Pray hard for this wicked, wicked world and the children trapped in it.

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