Dear Christian Choate
It’s been two years since you left this world in 2009. You were mercilessly smothered to death at an age when life is an abode of merriment and desires. Your mirth was stolen away by the murk of the three foot high dog cage in which you were ensnared by your own father and stepmother. When life is a canvas of vivid colors, you remained unseen in the darkness. At 13, when children your age aspire of accomplishments in academics, sports, and creative arts, you dreamt of getting out of your cage into the lap of nature. Christian, what you wanted was a normal life and cherished memories of your innocent childhood, but what you actually got was brutal abuse. You were ruthlessly beaten by your father, confined to the cage, sometimes deprived of food and water as if you were a wild beast on a rampant. A day before your death, your callous and apathetic father thrashed you heartlessly. While you lay unconscious, he locked your feeble body back into the cage as if you were a dead lotus in the lake. The next day when you lay asleep, peacefully caressed by the pristine wings of the guardian angel, your abusive father buried your mortal body in a shallow grave, covered it in concrete and then fled away from the crime scene. It is still uncertain as to why your custody was given to your allegedly abusive father who already had a criminal record of charges, including battery, auto theft, and harassment.
It is doleful to learn that your pediatrician, a mandatory reporter of child abuse did not report either to the child protection services or law enforcement agencies even though you informed him of your plight. Surprisingly, no one in your community ever witnessed or suspected abuse and called the hotline number for child abuse and neglect that every state has. The role of your biological mother in this whole episode remains inconclusive. However, your case has underscored some steaming questions, such as why weren’t you allowed to meet your biological mother even though you expressed the desire to meet her? Why was your custody given to your abusive father even though you could have been better off at a foster care or with an adopted family? Did Department of Child Services (DCS) not find any evidence of abuse in your trailer home even though they visited your family more than a dozen times starting in 1999? Was DCS ineffective in substantiating charges of abuse and neglect even though they had previous charges of physical abuse against your father and charges of unsanitary conditions and medical neglect against your stepmother? There is still no concrete and clear evidence as to why this all happened to you? Why you were always depressed and wanted to die? Why did your family abandon you even though, what you begged them for, was to be ‘liked’?
Christian, what happened to you is like a widespread disease that infests on healthy ontogeny of a child, and is commonly known as child abuse. Almost 5 children die everyday of child abuse. Neglect is the most common form of child abuse that devours 59% of children. Almost 11% of children suffer physical abuse, 7.6% fall prey to sexual abuse, and 4.2% suffer emotional abuse. This statistics may disturb you further, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Child abuse if substantiated can be prosecuted and the abuser(s) can be held guilty under law. I am hoping that your abusers face the music given their acrimonious behavior towards you. Also, barbaric act like child abuse is not just a family’s problem, but an issue requiring community intervention. People should be made aware of child abuse reporting procedures through community wide campaigns. Education and awareness about recognizing signs of abuse, or reporting suspects should be a major part of such campaigns. In addition, healthy parenting through free trainings and seminars should be made available. Open communication between parents and children about child abuse, including sexual abuse can be a source of reassurance and building trust. It can also prevent such offenses that are sometimes committed by caregivers, such as relatives, fictive kins, or other people that innocent children may trust. Much action needs to be taken at the legal and criminal justice system level. Law enforcement agencies must be better equipped to handle child abuse cases, which often are diverse and complex in nature. Child abuse is a crime and law enforcement officers thus must be proactive in their investigations.
Christian, as you lay peaceful and calm in the ambrosial home, I pray to god that your sojourn on this earth is not wasted, and that your abusers pay through their nose for the cruel affliction they put you through. May your soul rest in peace!
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