The horrific treatment and tragic death of Justis Burland has hurt us all as a community. This story brings ache to the core of my heart. I can’t stop thinking about that little boy and many others like him. A May 11th Forum column by Mike McFeely carried a headline questioning the justice of the short prison sentence for the man who apparently stood by while Justis was abused. That headline and accompanying report prompted three immediate thoughts.
- Was Justis’ twin brother, Xavier, also abused? It would seem likely he was. Is he OK? Is he in a truly safe place now, and receiving all the care he needs? I hope and pray he is.
- What can we as neighbors and friends do to help kids who might be in jeopardy like Justis was? The Forum reported multiple people had called social services about what they perceived to be abuse of Justis, and yet nothing was done. If social services cannot step in—possibly due to case overload or lack of evidence—how else can we help? What is wise and what is unwise in a situation where we suspect a child might be being abused?
- Finally, an obvious parallel. If standing by while a little boy is hurt and finally dies is deemed by society to be worth more than four years in prison, why is deliberately killing a child in a mother’s womb acceptable? Are not all who euthanize or dismember unborn children, all who assist in this procedure and all who volunteer to escort mothers into the place where this will be done to children, as culpable as the man who stood by while Justis was tortured and ultimately killed? I cannot see a difference.