Finally, some good news to come out of this sad story: Phoenix police will pursue felony child abuse charges for the parents, Liberian refugees, who abandoned their eight-year-old daughter in July — after she was allegedly gang-raped by four boys — because they were ashamed.
The boys, ages 10 to 14, who are also Liberian refugees, allegedly lured the eight-year-old girl to a storage shed, by promising her chewing gum, where the alleged assault took place. When the parents learned their daughter had been raped, they apparently told police they did not want her to return home. She has been living in protective custody since the incident.
Ditching their kid is not the main reason police are pursuing abuse charges, however. According to the Associated Press, the young girl and her family have been referred to Child Protective Services in Phoenix five times since the girl was four years old. Altogether, past reports (including several times the young girl was found by neighbors or police to be wandering around the neighborhood by herself stealing or begging for food) could comprise felony child abuse. [Fox News]
I’m no expert on the legal system or child abuse, but I hope that felony child abuse charges would mean this girl is taken away from these parents. It’s sad but true: The five previous incidents of alleged abuse that were reported to Child Protective Services may not have been enough to pull the girl from her parents’ home. Indeed, the spokesperson for Phoenix’s Child Protective Services told the AP, “Removing a child from the family has to be one of the last resorts. We really are obligated to take other steps before removing the child.” Conceptually, I can understand that. But ditching an 8-year-old girl out of shame is unconscionably cruel and awful parenting.
It’s frustrating to watch how the needs of the government (they can’t just yank every kid with bad parents out of her home) have to be negotiated with the needs of individual children’s well-being, especially since I don’t think these parents have shown any concern for their daughter’s well-being. This, if anything, is the time for the last resort, the point at which we have to say enough is enough for this poor child.