A selective guide to arts commentaries in print and websites elsewhere.
Introduction to Broad Street Review, plus biographies and contact points for our editors and contributors.
See a list of coming appearances by BSR's writers.
Child abuse and bureaucracy: Another Philadelphia storyBY: Sarakay Smullens 05.15.2012
Another helpless child has died due to neglect by Philadelphia’s overwhelmed human service agencies. The real tragedy is that they needn’t be overwhelmed— if they’ll accept help from outside professionals.
Another helpless child victim:
Dear Mayor Nutter,
I write to you about the horrible torturing and death of six-year-old Khalil Wimes, another helpless child victimized by inadequate services to Philadelphia’s most vulnerable children and their families.
For more than 30 years, I did intensive pro bono work with families who abused their children and with the abused children themselves. My referrals came from the district attorney’s office, from schools, from counselors and even from distraught workers in the Department of Human Services who wanted to get cases out of the system. My approach involved intensive group psychotherapy, supplemented by individual, couple and family therapy as indicated, plus family life education, as well as help offered on a 24/7 basis.
Some parents cannot be helped to change, and their children must be removed from their homes. But others desperately want to learn to parent and love well. Those professionals who work with them must be on call 24/7.
For thirty years I took emergency calls wherever I was. I attended court hearings with my clients, accompanied them to school conferences, and paid visits in the middle of the night when terror overwhelmed them and they feared hurting themselves or their children. I prepped them for job interviews and shopped with them as they chose their interviewing outfits. In short, I worked to give them the support and care they were denied in their own formative years.
I spent many hours in preparation. Afterward, I was told that there was no need or room for my model in the city’s plans. When I asked why I continued to get referrals if there was no need for my approach, there was silence.
I know it does not have to be this bad. I know little ones like Khalil and Danieal Kelly, who died at age 14, can be saved. I also know that the city agencies responsible for protecting such children are overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the stresses, the anger, the violence and the squalor they must confront day after day. Is it too much to ask that they welcome involvement from professionals who might be able to help alleviate the problem?♦
Respond to this Article