I could hardly believe what I was hearing last week when I watched the BBC’s 6 O’clock News. A couple in California had been arrested and charged with torture after one of their 13 children escaped from their house via a window and went to the police. The 17 year old daughter had planned her escape for 2 years, and actually took a younger sister with her, but the younger child turned back in fear. When the police investigated the 17 year old’s claims further they were shocked to find her other 12 siblings (ranging in ages from 2 – 29) malnourished and chained to their beds. All the children were small, pale, and thin. Apparently the mother looked ‘perplexed’ when the police turned up.
I can only assume from this that both parents were mentally ill. Why on earth would anybody want to shackle their children to their beds and deny them food? Apparently tempting food would be put in plain sight, but the children could not reach it. The children were only allowed one shower every year, but they were allowed to write in diaries.
This raises a couple of questions; how was it they hadn’t previously come to the attention of their local authorities, and didn’t the neighbours think it strange that they never saw any of the 13 children playing outside? Somebody living nearby must have seen the mother out and about during her many pregnancies surely?
This couple could have had much joy from their extended family as they grew older, but now I expect not one of those children will want anything to do with them. And…shock/horror, what happens if the mother falls pregnant again when she gets out of jail? Probably nobody is allowed to suggest sterilisation as it would go against the woman’s human rights, so hopefully someone somewhere will have the sense to take the baby into care for its own safety.