Recently, I read a news story about an obese third grader from Cleveland that just blew my mind and struck a chord. The child weighed more than 200 pounds and had serious medical issues. Officials claimed that the mother in question didn’t do enough to help the boy, who suffered from many weight-related issues, such as breathing problems and sleep apnea.
The mother, who was not identified, was quoted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as saying, “They are trying to make it seem like I am unfit, like I don’t love my child…It’s a lifestyle change and they are trying to make it seem like I am not embracing that. It is very hard, but I am trying.”
It has been a topic of passionate debate on whether or not it’s right to take extremely obese children from their families. Many individuals believe severe obesity in children to be a form of neglect. I agree that in certain instances this may be the case. For instance, if you’re giving food to your child only to pacify him in front of the TV so that you don’t have to deal with him, I’d say that would be neglectful. I ‘m not naive enough to think that that does not occur in households. However, I know there are many cases where obesity isn’t always due to overeating. There are many reasons for obesity, such as economics and genetics.
For the record, I want to point out that the authorities had every right to be concerned about the child’s medical condition. He’s in an extremely unhealthy state, and that can lead to serious issues for him, which it appears that it already has. I do not fault anyone for their concerns in this situation, but I do, however, question their actions. In my opinion, I feel that they could have better handled these matters, and here are the reasons why I feel the way that I do.
Let’s start off with the economics of it all. For starters, it’s cheaper to buy a box of mac and cheese and a 99 cent burger than it is to buy a bag of salad. If you’re on a limited income, which many people are, you have to make groceries stretch. That being said, someone with limited funds is probably going to opt for the Ramen verses the fruit and veggies, because in our market the foods that are healthy are by far more expensive.
The other thing that bothers me about this story is how many cases of children being beaten, neglected, starved and sexually abused, sometimes dying from living in horrific conditions, or surviving, only to go on living with the damage for the rest of their lives, go unreported, or when reported, aren’t handled properly. I can say from personal experience that situations like that go on every day, and the authorities were of no help to me or my siblings. Perhaps the DCFS workers should put more focus on those situations as well.
In an article in the ABA Journal, I read that some children who have been beaten or live with parents who have severe drug problems have been left in their homes because it was felt that they were in no imminent danger according to Sam Amata a Juvenile Public Defender. Amata was quoted as saying, “I think we concede that some intervention is appropriate, but what risk became imminent?”
There are some observers that wonder if the unusual action by Cleveland-area officials was appropriate considering that the unidentified child, who was on honor roll, isn’t imminently at risk, it appears, of any serious harm, reports the Plain Dealer.
I recently read another news story that involved a 14 year old girl with cerebral palsy who weighed a total of 28 pounds. When they found her, she was covered in bed sores, showed other obvious signs of neglect, and her residence was reported as being vile and filthy according to the prosecutor. This 14 year old girl passed away on March 1 from nutritional and medical neglect which was further complicated by her chronic condition according to the county coroner’s office. Two nurses who saw this young girl did not report the obvious abuse and neglect that was occurring within the home.
I just don’t get how something like that can happen to a child and no one notices. Didn’t she have regular checkups by a physician, especially given her medical condition? How is it that a child this underweight and malnourished was able to fly under the radar? Was she not in some sort of school program? If she wasn’t able to attend due to her condition wasn’t there someone there to monitor her academic progress?
It’s extremely difficult for me to believe that her mother and the nurses that were supposed to be caring for her were the only ones who knew. Shame on those who did know and did nothing because this poor child died a horrible and tragic death! I seriously think that there are more issues than just childhood obesity out there, and many extremely bad case scenarios. Had this child been overweight would she have actually received help?
I understand that the 8-year-old boy had serious medical issues, but instead of ripping him from his mother, perhaps they should have assisted in furthering her education with the program he was enrolled in. He started to lose weight and gained some back again, but from my experience with weight loss that can happen. It is a complete lifestyle change that doesn’t happen overnight.
Losing weight too quickly can be just as unhealthy, and it takes some time to alter your entire life into a completely new lifestyle. I feel that what they did was irrational and more thought should have been put into their solution for the situation.
Did they even run medical tests on this child to see if there wasn’t some other underlying issue? Who’s to say that it couldn’t have been an illness or something genetic? They need to test that avenue first and further educate the family. Then if the family is still doing nothing to help their child get better than at least I could see a better reason for the authorities stepping in and taking action.
Further, how do they know that this child wasn’t being bullied at school or had some deeper emotional issues that lead him to overeat, or perhaps have an eating disorder. The fact that they claim that it was a form of neglect without even trying to check all avenues just disgusts me.
Who’s to say that whatever he was going through was necessarily because of the mother? What if she was his only support system and the next thing he knows he was ripped away from them because he is obese? Did they ever stop to think of the child’s feelings in the mess? Perhaps now they may of left him with the feeling that it’s his fault because of his size. I mean what other explanation could they possibly give the kid for taking him away?
I also feel that more should have been done on the mother’s part to prevent this child from getting to this point in his weight. Whether she took him to the doctor for testing and medical advice as to how to help her son, or enrolled him in a nutritional program herself. It’s extremely unhealthy for a child to have to live with such medical complications at such a young age. Frankly, I see fault on both sides, but I still feel that honestly for the mental and physical health of the child, things could have been handled better.
They claim that this is only temporary and that a trial is scheduled for the child’s ninth birthday next month so that authorities can decide whether or not he will return home with his mother. I just hope that the individuals handling this case think about some of these situations more carefully before they decide to rip another child from his home.
There are plenty of children out there who desperately need help, are at serious risk and being severely abused. I personally would like to see authorities just as active in removing those children, and not just bullying the parents whose children are overweight.