Thursday, January 19, 2006

"Murder in the Apartment"

These are the responses to my January 18 article, "Observations On The Death Of An Amiable Child, Tortured By Adults And Ignored By Authorities." Thanks to all, please continue to provide us with your feedback.


  1. When you see the list of victims all at once, you begin to realize the horror that is inherent in the system. Of course, this is just too, too much and I hope and pray that these murders will shake up the powers that be to do something to stop it for good.

  2. morning glory9:54 AM

    In my view, your finest essay yet. Eloquent, impassioned, critical (even stern and rightly so) and just. It met appropriately the level of a crime that has outraged the city.

  3. But if national security were in issue, torturing the child to death
    would have been perfectly legal, according to administration apologist and legal luminary John Yoo.

  4. I notice that the one person you do NOT blame in the tortured/murdered child syndrome is the mother, a woman who kept having children despite her inability to provide a secure environment for any of them. Isn't it time to attack the last politically correct bastion of liberalism and admit that mothers who allow their children to be tortured and killed are murderers, not just battered women? From Hedda Nussbaum down we have become apologists for a mindset that sees women as too helpless to intervene, even in cases of extreme brutality. But when a woman loves drugs more than her child, or when a woman chooses to stay with a man and assist him in torturing a child, she too is a murderous criminal and deserves condemnation. If we took the same shaming attitude towards this behavior as we do towards smoking, perhaps we'd see less of it. Let's start with our commentators.

  5. Moonlight10:27 AM

    you spell it out so well. Sure you realize we've been conditioned to mind our own business, don't interfere, etctera. Especially for relatives to stay out of the couple relationship. And what is there in entertainment/media to make people more "interventventional" Henry, I don't find it in churches either.
    I've long called for intervention and not only in substance abuse problems but all human problems.
    How many elder persons are abused and neglected? But they get little coverage when killed or abused in nursing homes or by health care attendant. The care and respect is so lacking in general for elder persons. And even most sadly by their own families. And in our apartment houses, mine alone, there are five or so elders quite infirm, living alone with no concern by the board or neighbors. Only the staff give any concern.

    Men too are abused and by their women partners but this gets even less attention because they are too ashamed to report it.

    I wrote about Lisa Steinberg and the need for intervention and for extended family presence discouraged by the father. In the world reknwn murder case of Ron Goldlman and Nicole Brown, her family said later if only we had picked up clues about the abuse by her husband O.J Simpson, we might have saved her. If only. If only.

    People are afraid to speak out you know that. With good reason sometimes. But more, it is the apathy, isn't it?

    Also the job of case workers must be fairly perilous too - and more should be said about what they must contend with.

    Mostly I am concerned however with the breakdown of the extended family when it exists - the forced breakdown by social engineers. And religious ones too who preach forsaking all others, meaning familles of origin too. Yet, how many of us are worried sick about our offspring's obviously difficult partner or spouse but dare to say nothing for fear of retaliation against our offspring.

  6. I can't tell you how instructive and amazing your columns are -- from the seriousness of child abuse to the sensibilities of the amiable child monument, I am "blown away"! Thank you for doing this.

  7. Some of us recently read about your "Observations on the Death of an Amiable Chiled, tortured by adults and ignored by authorities ... " So far,
    the articles which I have read from your organization seem to allow one to bring out the truth in them . . . leaving us to check our humanity. In the case of Nixzmary Brown "someone . . . could have done something and
    prevented this tragedy" keeps echoing in my mind.

  8. I'm trying to get my client the National Council on Crime and Delinquency to make its experts in this field available to the New York media to explain what has happened, why and what can be done about it. Unfortunately thiese incidents will change NOTHING and everything will continune until the next time...and in between times nothing will happen. That's the way it is and that's the way it will remain until and unless the system undergoes change.

  9. Where were the other relatives and neighbors? The media was so quick to blame just the ACS, while interviewing the grandmother the next day for the "tragedy effect" (I think that is who she is).

  10. Remember Truman...the buck stops here. Well, this was a disgrace for the entire city and the system and no one is really taking responsibility. This is a crime, worse than a tragedy. I don't know much about this subject but whoever Mattingly is, he should resign today and the mayor should take responsibility and hire someone who can restructure this agency so that it works. One death is bad enough, but four of them!

  11. Thanks for your observations. I have additional info for you on a
    case where the ACS went the other way, an additional proof of their

    My friend, a highly intelligent unwed mother of one, took her
    three-year-old daughter to the hospital because her arm was swollen. Turns out the daughter has a mild form of a disease (which she may grow out of, hopefully) that makes bones so brittle that they are easily fractured. So, because there was a bone fracture, the ACS took my friend's daughter away, claiming abuse. My friend wasted money on a lawyer who did nothing, and finally found a lawyer who got
    her daughter back after eight "horrible mess" months. Common sense would have proved that there was no child abuse -- the woman's grandmother had lost her hearing from bone problems and had always suffered easily broken bones, and there was a diagnosis from the Hospital of Joint Diseases that established the physical problem.

    But my friend didn't look good to the social workers -- much as she
    loved her daughter. She was white, unwed, collecting welfare,
    answered phones at a dominatrix business, had a beloved but not sane mother and a father who threw her out for bad behavior back when she was 14.

    Now she has her child back but is visited every two weeks by ACS, who are "nasty." However, some comment on her child's imagination and personality. How any observant person could see her situation as one of child abuse is very strange.

  12. When theory, "keep the family together" trumps services required, ACS will continue to limp along.

    Working in the pediatric clinics at Bellevue and Mt. Sinai forced most of us providing direct service to recognize that some mothers will resist any
    suggestions to alter her style of child rearing. Did the mother of the murdered child, who had multiple partners, ever really provide any of her 6
    children with a real family or was she just a baby producting machine?
    Not one story addressed her income. Did she work and if she is on welfar, doesn't that require monitoring of the recipient's home?

    Your commentary is on the money. But can anyone change ACS not to mention

  13. I’d encourage you to turn part of this into a NYT LTE, since I don’t think that your excellent idea, excerpted below, is getting any attention yet.

    “The MTA has made a fetish out of its "If you see something, say something" campaign which has, so far as we know, failed to discover any explosives. The MTA is not wrong in trying to increase public awareness. However, the same energy should be expended by ACS in inviting the public to report child abuse. We know that some reports will be unfounded or spiteful, but if a few children's lives are spared, it will be worth the inconvenience.”

  14. Henry the threat of law suits stops many people from reporting what they observe.The miracle is that the department must surely save many children each year.Child abuse is a horror but there is only so much you can do to stop it..

    We of course should do more than we do but is a bad situation made worse by our own actions which run up against the right of parents to privacy-to be protected from busy bodies-to be defended from malicious gossips etc.The rights of children are paramount so perhaps whistle blowers could be protected and more children could be saved.

  15. Thank you, as usual, for your astute observations.

    I have only this to say:

    No one will ever stick up for the child in this society ever as jails

    are too much of a big business capitalist proposition. It is to

    the benefit of the system to allow children to be abused and to

    die in order to incarcerate the offenders and thus provide:

    1)more jails that Halliburton can build

    2)business for catering at the jails

    3)jobs for the prison guards

    4) payment for incarceration

    Jails are big business. There is no incentive for “any” government

    to intercede in child abuse - which, is handed down generation

    to generation. Her parents were abuse survivors themselves. That’s

    the way it works and always is - generation after generation.

    Talk is cheap. There will never come a time when “any” government

    chooses to intervene to break the cycle as there is just far too much

    money to be made if they do otherwise and sacrifice the child.

    That’s the way it’s been; that’s the way it will always be.

    So why waste time even pontificating on the issue.