One night last week a burglar struck in my neighborhood and made off with a large number of items including a riding mower on a trailer that belongs to the mayor. By midmorning the next day we had a suspect. When we arrived at where we believed he was living to serve a search warrant he fled into the nearby woods. After about an hour he was in custody and most of the stolen items recovered.
The mower was still on the trailer and sitting in plain view. The other stolen items were in a wooden shed on the property. Our quick response gave him no time to pawn or sell any of the loot. The home where the items were found is in an unincorporated area of the county largely populated by folks close living at or near the poverty line. We have responded many times to domestic disturbances, loud music, riding four wheelers, public drunkenness etc. I do not want to cast aspersions on the fine law abiding folks who call this neighborhood home. As is so often the case the whole neighborhood is identified by the actions of a few.
Searching the residence for stolen property brought back a lot of memories. There were piles of dirty clothes and dirty dishes everywhere. The child’s bedroom floor was littered with toys, clothes, blankets and the streamers from a set of pom-poms. We found a small amount of marijuana and a lot of drug related items including a box containing rolling papers and a syringe. The irony is that the box full of dangerous items sat on a sink with childproof locks on the cabinet. Childcare seemed to be just a series of empty gestures.
Despite the poor living conditions there were two large screen televisions (one of which was most likely stolen). I am not passing judgment on anyone but I do know what being raised in these conditions can do to a child. With little positive interaction between child and parent the child suffers. I have been very poor in my life and twice was saved from living on the street by a sister who loved me more than I deserved. Learning to make right decisions took a long, long time. Caring for your children should be at the top of the list and not something you do haphazardly. And I know that there is a big difference between being poor and being dirty. Being poor may be beyond your control but being clean and keeping a clean house is most certainly not.
I pray that the children in this household will grow to be healthy and happy but I know from experience the odds are stacked against them.