Counseling Tips For Community Members After A Child Abuse Incident

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As an EMT and paramedic, my husband was among the first to respond to 911 calls that involved people getting hurt. After keeping the same job for several years now, he would not even need to blink during car accidents or heart attacks because of their commonality. However, if there was something that would always get to him, it responded to a child abuse incident.

Just a few days ago, my husband left the house on a positive note. He was like, “Maybe there would not be too many accidents today.” It was a far cry from reality, but he was always hopeful about it.

Once he came home, though, my husband looked sadder than he had ever been – even more miserable than when his childhood dog passed away two years back.

“What happened? What’s wrong?” I asked.

My husband said, “Someone called 911 today to report his neighbors, who had been abusing their child regularly. The man disclosed that the parents wanted the child to stop acting like one, basically. If he so much as ran down the stairs or made a noise at home, they would make him sits on the steps of the porch And not give him a meal for the rest of the day.

“Oh, my God,” I uttered. “But why didn’t the neighbor call sooner?”

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“I heard the police ask the same thing to the concerned caller when we arrived at the scene. The man said that he and his other neighbors had been getting death threats from the child’s parents because they had been giving him food on the porch whenever they would see the child out there. The couple did not want anyone helping the poor kid, claiming that he would not understand the consequence of not following the rules if other people would intervene ceaselessly,” my husband explained.

“And what gave them the strength to call 911 now?” I asked.

“The parents seemed to have started hitting the child as starvation and neglect would not work due to the concerned neighbors on his side. They resorted to punching and using belts,” my husband uttered. Looking at me with sad eyes, he added, “It was so horrible. The kid was black-and-blue when I saw him. We asked if he could stand up, and he tried so hard to do it. However, he was visibly weak from constant beatings and lack of nourishment, so he kept falling.”

“Where did you bring the child?”

“Well, the boy would have to stay in the hospital for a few days to ensure that he could get some nourishment and heal his physical wounds. His devastated grandparents were also there to take care of him. Then, they would take him back to their ranch so that the child could live away from the pain – away from his parents, who would get persecuted for child abuse.”

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Reeling In

I did not need to be a counseling professional to realize how negatively the child abuse incident could impact the entire town. After all, for at least a week or so, various news outlets could flock in town and disturb the peaceful neighborhood to get a scoop about the family of the abused boy. Instead of being able to move on quietly, they would have to fend off snoopy reporters.

Seeing my husband’s reaction, too, it was highly possible that the incident would have a much more significant impact on other people. My husband had only known about it a few hours ago, but he was so shaken that he could not even eat his favorite chicken parmesan for dinner. As for the family’s neighbors who had been aware of the situation for months but could not do anything to save the child until now, it must make them feel guilty and sorry for letting the boy’s parents manipulate them.

Still, if I were the neighbors, I would not allow the incident to affect me for too long. It was not their fault that those parents treated their kids awfully. They could have contacted the police sooner, but their hands must be tied at the time. Also, people were not wired to think the worst of others, so they might not believe that parents could act like that.

Final Thoughts

There was no doubt in my mind that it would take a while for the child’s neighbors to move past the incident. That’s especially true since the family’s home sat in the middle of the community, abandoned after the parents got convicted. From what my husband told me, even the best real estate agents found it almost impossible to resell the property, given that everyone knew of its dark history.

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As for the child, he never returned to that place. It was the best decision, considering the awful memories might only return if he did. There were other ways to cope with what happened, and they did not involve going back down memory lane too soon.

Hopefully, there would not be another case like this in the future.

 

Counseling 101: How A Missing Child Affects The Community

I was driving my daughter from school the other day when I saw her giggling at something on her phone. I was like, “What’s so funny? What are you looking at?” When she turned her phone to me, I ended up stepping on the brake pedal so hard that I had to hold my arm out across my daughter’s chest to keep her head from hitting the dashboard.

Well, before you say anything, I am not a bad mother. I am also certainly NOT a bad driver. It just so happened that my teenage daughter showed me a clip from a social media platform, Tiktok. It was an image of a middle-aged woman with special effects overlaid to make her look like she was transforming from a human to a she-devil.

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“What the heck is that?” I demanded.

I mean, I could envision that woman really turning into a devil because of how good her image had been edited. And as a devout Christian, I did not want to think that way to anyone.

Giggling, my daughter said, “Relax, mom! This is the mother of that little boy Who went missing in my friend’s neighborhood last week. This clip had been going around on Tiktok because signs were pointing to his mother as the culprit.”

My head spun a little at every word that came out of my daughter’s mouth. I knew that I was not the techiest person, but I did not live under the rock. If there is any gossip, and my coworkers knew about it, they would relay the information to me. But this one never reached my radar, and it was disconcerting.

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Learning More About The Sad News

As soon as we got home, I asked my daughter to show me the news articles regarding that missing child. According to the earlier reports, a boy with autism snuck out of school one day and was seen going home in CCTV cameras. However, his family called the police to declare that he was missing.

It caused a city-wide search for the boy, and the law enforcers had been looking everywhere and asking everyone who could have possibly gotten him. The authorities even said in the beginning that the child might be hiding from them, considering he had a habit of doing the same thing to everyone regularly.

However, after a few days of searching in vain, my daughter said that there was a rumor spreading in her friend’s town that the boy was not missing at all. Instead, he had a deranged mother who drugged him to death and then dumped his body in the lake for calling 911.

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That’s when I turned to my husband, who apparently heard the same news earlier than I did.

“My God. Is that possible?” I asked him.

“Honey, we don’t know for sure, but I also heard at work that the police were starting to drain the lake. They must be running out of ideas and did not want to leave any stone unturned.”

Understanding The Situation

The more I pondered about it, the more I worried about the news’ impact on the town where the missing child came from. As a counselor, I came across people who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even if they were not directly affected by such events. It was more of a dark cloud hanging over their heads and making them worry about the other horrible things that could happen in their neighborhood.

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In such cases, I would suggest a group meeting. They could form a circle and talk about their feelings regarding the awful events in town. It would not be too much for them to seek group counseling either, mainly if they lived in a close-knit community.

From what my daughter told me, after all, her friend’s parents and neighbors felt guilty for not seeing the likely signs that the boy’s mother could do a heinous act. Although there were no official news reports about it yet, it might only be a matter of time before reporters got wind of it. That would be especially true if they would find a body at the bottom of the lake. *knock on wood*

My daughter asked me what those people could likely do to move past this incident once the boy was found. I said, “They need to be more supportive of each other. If someone feels blue, they should check on them. It also matters to create a safe space for everyone to express their feelings. Otherwise, they may not be willing to talk about it.”

Final Thoughts

At this time of writing, I feel sad to announce that the boy has not been found. The law enforcers continued to retrace his steps from the school to the house, but they could not find clues that would lead to the child. We could only hope and pray that the rumors were incorrect about his mother and that the police could return the boy safely to his family.