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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Before the "system failed:" The death of a child.

The Denver Post headline reads, "Family: System failed child."

It is a horrific story of an abused four year-old boy, now dead, allegedly at the hands of his maternal grandmother. The grandmother had been awarded custody of the boy's two older sisters. The boy was living under her care, as well. The boy's name was Gabriel.

Gabriel's paternal grandmother had called the county Human Services department multiple times over her concerns about the boy's treatment. The State will now investigate the circumstances of the boy's death and the county's response to the previous complaints. That investigation may or may not find problems with the county.

Ultimately, however, Gabriel's death is not a failure on the part of the government, although it may have played a part in not preventing it. Ultimately, the system did not fail this child.

Ultimately, his family failed him. The article makes no mention of his parents. Where are they? Perhaps they have passed away and the boy is an orphan. If not, where are they? Gabriel was not under the legal custody of his maternal grandmother, only his sisters Where were other family members ready to take care of the boy? Where was the church?

This tragedy underscores the futility of looking to the government for protection. No one in the Department of Human Services was Gabriel's blood. No one in that department was Gabriel's mother. No one in that department was this Gabriel's father. No one in that department was Gabriel's family.  No one in that department was Gabriel's pastor.

No government agent can ever - ever - care about a child like his own blood. No government agent can ever have the compassion for that child like a man - or woman - of God.

If we, as society, looked to ourselves as individuals to help Gabriel, Gabriel would still be alive. Instead, we, as a society, have abdicated our personal duty as individuals and given it to the government, as a collective, to look out for children like this poor boy.

The collective works a 40 hour week. The collective goes home at 5:00. The collective punches a clock. A caring person -as an individual - never clocks out. Let us stop shirking our personal responsibilities onto the backs of a soulless collective.

Arguing for more state power over neglected and abused children is not compassionate. It exacerbates the problem.


No government agent is ever ultimately responsible for a child - his family, and by extension his church famiily - is responsible.







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