Heartbreaking crimes

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A few days ago, the same edition of the Southeast Missourian had separate stories detailing the horror and suffering parents are capable of inflicting on their children.

One story reported that the conviction of a Texas mother had been overturned on a technicality. She had been convicted of murdering her five children. Under circumstances that are almost too horrible to imagine, the young mother drowned her children one by one in a bathtub at the family home. She then called police. Testimony at her trial indicated she was overwhelmed by motherhood.

Closer to home, a Poplar Bluff couple was arrested and charged with first-degree child abuse and felony murder after their 2-week-old son died from injuries police believe were caused by brutal punishment.

The most astonishing -- and heartbreaking -- evidence in the Poplar Bluff case came from witnesses who told authorities they saw several instances of alleged abuse. If that's the case, it makes any reasonable person wonder why someone didn't intervene before the infant sustained life-threatening injuries.

The capacity for human beings to inflict pain and suffering on other human beings is well-documented. To explain why this happens would fill large volumes, as many experts have tried to do over the centuries.

But such crimes are magnified beyond comprehension when children become victims at the hands of their own parents.

Such victims deserve our compassion, and so do those who commit these crimes. But the guilty also deserve to be appropriately punished. In the court of public opinion, those who watch and take no action also should suffer some consequences.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: