A young boy missing his bus to school is not a rare occurrence.
It happens every day to children all across the country.
Most likely, the child will go to a parent for a ride, or, if the school is close by, a parent can slip on a pair of shoes and walk the child to the school.
Theodore Moody of Sweeny, Texas was faced with this situation on Sept. 24 when his 8-year-old stepson missed the school bus.
Moody walked the child to school and during that walk zapped the boy with a 100,000-volt stun gun — discipline for missing the school bus.
More disturbing is what Moody told the Houston Chronicle following his arrest: “The belt didn’t work; this did. [A stun gun] hurts much less than the belt. I’ve whipped his ass so hard that it left marks. That just didn’t send the message and this did.”
Exactly what message was Moody trying to send? Catch the school bus or get zapped?
Moody has since been arrested on child abuse charges, and the young boy and his siblings have been placed in foster care.
On Sept. 13, Madelyne Gorman Toogood, of Indiana, was having a bad day.
A sales clerk at the mall refused to give her a cash refund on a return.
On top of that, her 4-year-old daughter jumped out of the shopping cart, got lost in the store and opened several Barbie doll boxes.
Basically, the 4-year-old was acting her age.
Toogood eventually left the mall and walked across the parking lot with her daughter in tow.
She approached her sport utility vehicle, opened the door and placed her child inside.
Security cameras show Toogood turn and look in all directions before she focused her attention back to her child, who she proceeded to slap mercilessly and apparently, punch repeatedly.
Toogood has pleaded innocent to charges of felony battery, charges that can carry a prison sentence of up to 3 years.
Her daughter was placed in foster care.
Is that all abused children get?
Placed with foster families while their abusive parent goes to trial for abusing them?
The public is satisfied to see the abusive parent get prison time, but that is not justice, at least not for the child.
The child gets bounced around from foster home to foster home, sometimes for the rest of his or her juvenile life, with physical wounds that may heal in time, but emotional wounds that can last a lifetime.
While foster care improves the child’s situation by removing him or her from an abusive home, it should not be the final line on the matter.
On average, foster children spend 33 months in foster care, a system in which over one-third of the children have spent 3 to 5 years.
These children need stability.
They should not be left to languish in government care.
In Maryland, this past August, an audit showed that caseworkers failed to perform background checks in 45 percent of the foster care cases.
In 68 percent of the cases children received no dental care. In 35 percent of the cases studied there were no records of the children attending school.
Most shocking is that in at least one case, a child was placed in a home with a convicted child molester.
A similar audit in Florida forced the state’s child welfare agency to admit that it had lost track of 500 children.
And it does not end with Florida and Maryland. Cases like these can be found in states across the country.
Children in foster care have already been through enough and deserve better than this.
They should be adopted, and quickly.
They should not be left in a system that can lose track of them, forget they exist or put them in a situation worse than the one from which they were removed.
It’s not just a day in school that Moody’s stepson missed. Now, in foster care, he is missing his life, and he deserves it back.
Tim Wiseley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org