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When will officials’ responses to child abuse change?

It’s been a very long time since I’ve written a blog. Since my Not Guilty verdict in 2010, I’ve been working on putting my life back together and, even though I’ll never forget what happened to me and my family, I’ve tried to move on. However, once in a while, a story surfaces in the news that makes me so angry that I simply must speak out.

I’m so upset about a story I read recently that it took me four days to even write this. I’m talking about something that happened in Seffner, Florida on December 30, 2017.

Children ordered to sleep in bed with murdered brother’s body

Detectives say a 6-year-old boy is dead after his stepfather
threw him against a wall at a Seffner motel.

The short story is that a young boy’s mom was at work, and her husband was watching their four kids. He got mad at his stepson, six-year-old Brice Russell, for getting out of bed to get a cookie. The end result was that the boy was beaten to death.

I am so frustrated that this boy died. He went to bed and then woke up and needed a snack. The stepdad beat him and threw him against a wall. He also forced the other children, through threat of violence, to hit him, too.

Someone in a neighboring room heard all the noise and called for a welfare check. The police arrived to check on the report, but left when the stepfather assured them the noise was simply loud music.

Police: Florida man beat six-year-old stepson to death over cookie

SEFFNER, Fla. — Deputies say a Florida man beat his stepson
to death for sneaking out of bed to get a cookie on Dec. 30,
and then may have made the boy’s siblings …

Here is what I don’t get: why did the cop only go to the door and speak to the man? He never asked to enter the room and speak to the children.

This is the type of thing that used to happen when I was a child and the neighbors (or one of us kids) would call the police because our father was viciously beating someone in our home. I thought that things had changed. I thought the laws were different now than when I grew up. I am so sad for this boy.

And yet it gets worse.

Before the police arrived, the stepfather had the other children get into bed.  Between them, he placed the boy that was beaten. He told the police that the children were sleeping. The cop left and the other children had to sleep with their brother between them, as he died during the night. The next morning 911 was called and the boy’s body was cold to the touch.

How terrible this is for the boy who died, and how terrible for his siblings to have that experience! It never should have happened. Certainly, the man shouldn’t have beaten him and placed him in the bed. But, most certainly, the police should have demanded to go in the room. If they had, the boy may have lived. When someone calls for help, the police need to be more assertive in seeing and talking to everyone.

His poor siblings now have to deal with, and process, having to hit their brother and be in the same bed with him as he died. This will haunt them for the rest of their lives. No amount of therapy will ever clear this away for them.

I have no further words, but plenty of unanswered questions:

Who is going to help this mom, who had to go to work and leave her children with a violent man? Who is going to help the other children? Finally, when are the authorities going to take this type of thing more seriously?


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