Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Cage and the Porch Light.

I am often glad that I don't have access to cable or satellite television in my home.

The news via Twitter is often more than enough to wrench my heart from my chest.

I have envisioned and heard about heinous deeds done by parents to their children - starting with my childhood reading of Cinderella and moving through my high school years with the woman who drove her two young sons off of a bridge and the horrifying and decidedly sad case of Andrea Yates.  There were more to follow.  My recent reading of Switching Time...  and now...  Casey Anthony and the death of her daughter Caylee (in which she was found innocent, just to be clear, but still...the death of a child rings hard and hollow in ears around the world) and the case of Christian Choate, a boy who was tortured by his father and stepmother and kept in a dog cage for at least a year.

It's hard for me to actualize the fact that terrifying, heinous things happen to children every second of every day in every corner of the globe.  I am in awe of my friends and family members who work in social services and deal with those that are brought to light and have to make the difficult and painful decisions about which children should stay with their parents and which should be taken away.  I feel helpless.  Powerless.  And tired.

A friend of  mine has a brother who knows that his daughter is being abused, but the mother has custody, and so there is nothing he can do (she lives three states away).  Other friends of mine have a niece and two nephews who are living in decided squalor and the children are being kept from school and given far from adequate medical attention.  Social services visits, but doesn't find enough evidence to remove the children - and if they did - where would they go?  Would they ever see each other again?

When I was teaching I received poems and letters and narrative essays describing all sorts of horrors.  Kids came to me to talk about their sexually abusive fathers and their sisters who molested them when they were young and the boy on the playground who forced them to provide oral sex and now that same boy is their assigned lab partner and they don't know how to handle it or what to say.  I went through the proper channels with each event.  I told all the right people at all the right times - but I doubt highly that many of those cases were looked into completely.  Just one phone call.  Just one voice.  It all seems so big.

As a teacher, it seemed as though I had the power to ripple the pond a bit.  To effect some change.  To help some kids find a haven or a hot meal or a hug when necessary.

Now I'm a stay at home mom for my own children, and while I know it is an important job and piece in the puzzle to a more peaceful future, but what about The Others.  How can I help them?

Last night there was a call on facebook for folks to leave their porch-lights on for Caylee Marie Anthony - to honor her memory... or something.

I left my porch light on, after much debate, honestly.

How was it helping?

It was there, burning brightly, among millions of other porchlights... but then, in the morning... the porchlights go off, and what has changed?

Did Caylee see those lights from heaven and think them beautiful?  Or did she look down and wonder what the heck we were doing?

I don't know what to do sometimes.  How to help.  Who to talk to.

I don't have the same opportunities to spot abuse, and often the children who are most abused are never seen at school - indeed, they often never see the light of day, or never make it past their most tender years.

So I've been thinking.

A friend of mine posted a facebook status that said something to the effect of, "Instead of turning on your porch lights, keep them off and donate the money you save to an organization that helps abused women and children."

So I did some research and put out some feelers, because I thought, as I turned off my porch light this morning with an empty feeling, that he was right on.

Here's what I found:

 If you'd like to help, you can send your donations to:

National Children's Advocacy Center
210 Pratt Avenue
Huntsville, AL 35801

To help find missing children faster, you can send your donations to the Foundation set up in memory of Caylee Marie Anthony: here.

If you know of other organizations, please post them in the comments section below.

1 comment:

Anne said...

My mother used to be on the board for the Bucks County Womens Fund (located in Bucks County, PA). They are an organization that, among other things, raises money to be donated to shelters and other services for women and children. (At least this is how it was explained to me when I was a child and my mother worked there). Perhaps there is something like that in this area? Or you can donate to them through their website:

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