Last fall, I read with dismay the news of 4-year-old Lucas Webb’s death, purportedly at the hands of his parents. And now I read with equal horror that workers with the Missouri Children’s Division had failed to remove the boy from his father and stepmother, even after repeated calls to the Child Abuse Hotline by daycare workers.
The knee-jerk reaction likely will be to blame the child service workers and the Department of Social Services. To be sure, mistakes were made, and the state already has fired two workers involved in the case. Surely there will be calls to crucify others.
But that will be the incorrect response to such a tragedy. If you’re outraged and want to make a difference to ensure that young Lucas didn’t die in vain, you should turn your ire toward the Missouri General Assembly. Ask your legislators how they justify spending much of the precious five-month session, year after year, debating how to curtail abortion, or setting up roadblocks for women seeking birth control, or slowly but surely dismantling the state’s safety net for those living in poverty.
Or spending time on frivolous legislation, such as passing a bill allowing drivers to show proof of insurance by smart phone.
Instead, legislators should turn their attention to taking care of the children who already are here, who live in Missouri. Thousands live at or below the poverty line. Our representatives and senators don’t seem to care about those children, though. How else to explain the continual cuts to services that benefit them, such as Head Start and Medicaid, the elementary and secondary education budget and, yes, the Children’s Division?
Please, be angry about Lucas Webb’s death. Be very angry. And then do something about it. Contact your state representative and senator and demand that they address the systemic breakdown that ultimately caused Lucas Webb’s death. For a list of Missouri legislators, go to www.house.mo.gov or www.senate.mo.gov.