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Let’s stop crimes against children

By Chuck Witt

Summertime always brings a rash of reports about children being left in cars, too many of them dying because of the elevated temperatures which build in closed cars exposed to sunlight and the speed at which the body temperature of a child escalates.

Adding to these unfortunate incidents are other cases where children are simply abused, apparently for the delight of those who are normally charged with caring for them.

Locally, a couple has been charged with tying up children, suspended in a way that only allows their toes to touch the surface beneath them, and then whipping them with belts and electrical cords.

Another local case resulted in a woman being charged with criminal abuse for tying a 2-year old to a bed in a manner which kept the child from moving.

A 2-year old!

Recently, a couple in Lexington with a special needs 4-year old child became suspicious of his nanny when the child’s behavior changed dramatically. The couple secretly installed a video camera in their home and recorded the nanny dragging the child by his feet and sitting on his chest and his legs while she changed his diaper.

In Texas, a 19-year old woman was arrested and charged after leaving two children, a 2-year old and a 1-year old, in a car for 15 hours, while she and a 16-year old boyfriend partied. In that case it was fortunate that the incident occurred overnight, otherwise the build-up of heat in the car during the daytime would probably have resulted in the deaths of both children.

There may be some instances in which a child is inadvertently left in a car, and perhaps in those cases justice must be tempered with compassion. If an inattentive parent or guardian makes that kind of mistake and the result is the death of the child, the remorse of the adult will probably never be outweighed by any court sentence.

But for those who deliberately abuse a child, even Dante’s ninth level of hell, Cocytus, is not brutal enough to accommodate them. One is tempted to even suggest an adult leaving a child in a hot car should be sentenced to spend time in the same conditions.

If any of these people who mistreat children believe in the Bible, they should read or re-read Matthew 25:40: The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Of all the crimes that man can commit against his fellow man, the harming of a defenseless child must be the most heinous, the most unforgivable. The pictures of dead children being dragged from the debris of bombed Syrian homes or gasping for breath after being subjected to poison gas further drives this home.

These children, and in some cases, infants, are our future. They are entrusted to us to care for, to nurture, to help to maturity with compassion and kindness and understanding. And for those who harm these charges for the sake of either making themselves feel important or just to be vicious, a result should be that they will never again be able to produce another child.

The criminal justice system is constantly changing. In some states, assaults against police officers have been elevated to hate crimes, making the punishment more harsh.

Perhaps it’s time for our legislators to take a special look at crimes against children and to hold those responsible for those crimes fully accountable for their actions.

Society should not depend on justice in some afterlife being sufficient, even should it last an eternity.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.