Child abuse cases have been coming more to light recently as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact people across the globe. Statistically, the amount of child abuse cases rose dramatically during its height, and that is only from the cases that were recorded. We don’t know the children who still suffer in silence, with no one knowing what is going on behind closed doors.
Parents and guardians have an obligation to provide and protect their children, and it is really sad that those who shouldn’t be parents are in charge of caring for children.
Two child abuse cases that took place in London before the digital age really shook me. They were failed by the same child protective agencies. How could they have let these children suffer so badly when it was clearly evident they were being abused, allowing them to go home with their guardians?
1. Victoria Climbié
Victoria Climbié was an eight-year-old Ivorian girl who was beaten and tortured by her great aunt and boyfriend Carl Manning.
Being the 5th of eight children, Victoria’s great aunt, Marie-Thérèse Kouao, offered to take the girl back to France to arrange their education, which was actually quite common in their culture.
It was a great opportunity that turned into a nightmare.
Victoria and Marie left the Ivory Coast in November of 1988, but by December, red flags had already been raised due to Victoria’s excessive absences from school. When she was in class, teachers noted her unusual behavior. She even came to class one day with a shaved head and wore a wig.
After enough red flags had been raised that Marie owed the government 2,000 pounds and was evicted, and they fled the country.
In 1999, they started to live in London. Many people noticed how small and frail Victoria looked, and Marie explained the wig by telling people the child had short hair. No one bothered to ask any more questions after that. Social services visited the house 18 times, 10 of which Victoria was in attendance, and each time they noted how unkempt she was. The social workers assumed that it was Maria who told her to look as unkempt as possible to receive more benefits.
Truth was, this wasn’t an act at all. Victoria was actually being abused and neglected.
At home, she was forced to sleep in a bin liner in the bathtub, surrounded by her excrement. Marie justified this by saying she was a frequent bedwetter. If that wasn’t bad enough, Victoria was also bound, burned, scaled, staved, and beaten.
After the hospitals turned in numerous reports and visitors by social workers, Marie kept Victoria away from hospitals and took her to church, claiming that her niece had demons and it was accepted that her injuries were sustained by the said demons and that Satan had convinced the child to do these things to herself.
Many others who had seen Victoria noted her appearance and said absolutely nothing about it to the authorities.
On February 25th, 2000, Victoria died from her injuries and Marie was promptly arrested.
Four authoritative agencies knew about Victoria’s hardship and did absolutely nothing sufficient. FOUR.
Marie and Carl are serving life in prison in Durham and Wakefield respectively.
You would think after this horrific case of negligence on the authorities’ part would be enough for them to change the way they go about handling such cases.
Oh no… another child that was supposed to be protected also died because of blatant incompetence.
2. Baby P
Baby P’s mother and abuser, Tracey Connelly, is being released from prison. Her whole prison sentence was an absolute joke to begin with, and this solidifies it for the clown show it actually was. The only one who actually suffered anything was poor Baby P. His identity was revealed to be Peter, but was referred to only as Baby P per court order until 2009.
Baby P was a 17-month-old British boy who died in 2007 as a result of more than 50 injuries during an eight month period. Despite being seen by numerous doctors and children’s service agencies, Baby P was still permitted to stay with his mother (Tracy Connelly), her boyfriend (Steven Barker), and her boyfriend’s brother (Jason Owen).
Connelly was arrested numerous times after injuries were found on the child, but Baby P was always returned to his mother and she was never charged. The day after the last instance of child abuse being noted by a healthcare professional, Baby P was found in his cot and his skin was blue. It was revealed he swallowed a tooth after being punched, had a broken back, broken ribs, mutilated fingertips, and missing fingernails.
Again, I say… sick, sick, sick.
Owen and Barker were found guilty of “causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable person.” All three were cleared of murder because of insufficient evidence.
Yeah… let that one sink in a bit.
In 2009, Connelly and Barker were sentenced for the rape of a two-year-old girl. Connelly was sentenced to indefinite imprisonment for public protection (why is that even a thing???), which is a minimum of five years, and Barker was sentenced to life in prison.
Connelly was released in 2015 but breached her parole. She is now scheduled to be released from prison in the next few weeks.
We hear cases of child abuse more often these days, thanks to the internet. While most agencies are trying to get a handle on it, too many children fall through the cracks and end up dead. As a society, we need to do better. We HAVE to do better.
If you know of someone being abused, report it. Do NOT let it go. Failing to speak up makes you just as guilty.
There have been many more reports recently about child abuse cases in England. I really hope those agencies get their acts together and stop letting these kids be abused. I could have listed many more that died when protective services failed to do their jobs, especially recently when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height and access to homes was restricted. It is sad to think of all those children that suffer in silence and no one is there to help them.