Is anybody watching?

September 30, 2011

By Beth Bitler

An item appeared in my hometown newspaper, the Reading Eagle. concerning the arrest of parents of a four-year-old child who had been severely neglected. He weighed less than 20 pounds and had never been to a pediatrician in his life. The investigation began after workers from Berks County Children and Youth Services got a tip and went to the house. When they saw the condition of the boy, they ordered the parents to take him to the hospital. Doctors did tests and determined that the boy was starved through neglect; that’s when county detectives began investigating. The child is now in another hospital rehabilitating. No one is sure what the long-term impact might be for him.

As we read the article, my mother commented, “How could someone do something like that?” I chimed in, “Yes, but how come no one knew about it sooner?” While I am glad that a call was eventually made to child welfare, and that the child was helped and the parents held accountable, I had to wonder – was anybody watching? Weren’t there neighbors, friends, adults who interacted with the family’s older children? Did any family members check on the child or the parents? Was there no one who knew of this child’s existence?

The newspaper article didn’t address these questions, and I’ll probably never know the answers. But it reminds me yet again of the importance of initiatives like the Front Porch Project – increasing awareness of the safety and well-being of every child in a community by teaching neighbors, friends, co-workers and just about anyone else who sees a child to take notice and get involved.

If you want to learn more about the Front Porch Project, visit our website. Click on the “see how you can help” button on the left hand side.