Most everyone has followed, or at least heard the verdict reached by the jury last Tuesday for “tot mom,” Casey Anthony, in the trial for the murder of her daughter, Florida born Caylee Marie Anthony. Mom walks free this Sunday. The “not guilty” verdict does not bring back that precious baby, who went missing for 31 days before her disappearance was reported to the Orlando police. Death was the ultimate price in this case.
Adji Desir is still missing since 2009, when the young boy disappeared without a trace from Immokalee. Is he dead? Is he hungry, lonely, scared or worse?
Across the country, there were 797,500 children (younger than 18) reported missing in a one-year period of time studied, resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.
“Fortunately, most missing children in Florida return safely,” said Peter Warren, who has worked with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for eight years as a government analyst. Warren said there were 39,000 children reported missing in Florida in 2010, and of these, about 37,000 are runaways. That leaves 2,000 missing children in Florida, likely the victims of parental or non-familial abduction.
“Most of the runaways return home and the missing person issue is resolved within three months or so,” said Warren. “Fatalities of run-away children reported missing are rare, almost like a lightning strike. But they happen.”
Most people would agree that nothing is more sacred than human life, and especially that of our children, who have yet to have the chance to live their dreams…you know, that first missing tooth, first day of school, falling off a bike, or that first tender kiss found in puppy love.
But death is not the only sad consequence here. There is also the emotional damage experienced by many of these children during their displacement, such as needing to resort to unsafe living practices, such as taking drugs or engaging in prostitution, and even becoming victims of human trafficking.
So parents and caretakers, listen up. If we value human life like we say, and if we want to improve life on planet earth like we say, use the checklist below and focus on areas where you could improve. Do this in an effort to help our children.
• Communicate with your children, beginning at an early age, always in a way that shows caring for their safety while leaving the door open for safe discussions and sharing.
• Avoid yelling at your children when they make mistakes, but do impose sanctions that fit the house rules violation.
• Develop a plan of action to turn to when mistakes occur, letting your child/teen know in advance that this sanction will be imposed for violations of house rules, and then stick to the sanction.
• Do not develop house rules that are too rigid, or impose sanctions that are abusive to our children.
• Never shame our children. Ever.
• Never hit our children. Ever.
• Use methods of reward for good behavior. Positive reinforcement is more effective that negative.
• If you feel like you may act out toward your child in an unhealthy way, seek help immediately. Collier County has a Crisis Referral Hotline supported by trained volunteers. Call 911 for emergency, or call 262-7227 to speak anonymously with a trained crisis intervention person, or the office of Project Help at 649-1404.
According to Project Help Executive Director Michelle English, the hotline received and handled more than 2,100 calls from people in all kinds of crisis, not limited to rape or suicide, and this includes parents and caregivers in crisis, as well as youth. The service offers coping strategies, support and referrals.
• If you are a youth in trouble, reach out to someone you trust, or call 911.
Let’s not wait for the next trial, guilty or not guilty. Our children are the future, and healing starts at home.
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Nori St. Paul is a freelance writer specializing in psychosocial dynamics, spirituality and mind-body science. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.