Child abuse : It’s how we respond that matters |

Child abuse : It’s how we respond that matters

Nevada Appeal editorial board

It can happen here. Child abuse and neglect can be, unfortunately, an almost daily occurrence in Carson City. Law enforcement, courts, welfare agencies and groups such as Court Appointed Special Advocates and Advocates to End Domestic Violence constantly sort through the thickets of dysfunctional families, irresponsible parents and volatile situations to try to determine one thing: What’s best for the children?

Never before, however, has a case come to light quite like the one that unfolded last week when a state worker noticed a little girl pushing a grocery cart along a Carson City street.

From there, investigators learned the girl – 41 pounds! – was 16 years old, and she and her brother had been locked in a bathroom together for years.

The horror and dismay that greeted the discovery and subsequent arrest of grandmother, mother and stepfather are, in a way, reassuring. We fear sometimes that people grow numb to the evils of the world, perhaps because of the constant barrage of media attention to such matters, and simply want to turn their heads.

That’s not the case here, though.

The state worker is to be commended for following through on her instinct that something wasn’t right. Sheriff’s deputies reacted quickly and thoroughly, checking out the girl’s story and discovering her 11-year-old brother. The courts and social-welfare system will determine where this family goes from here.

But at this moment, there is reason to see some hope. The children were found – alive – and they can begin a long road to recovery.

No, Carson City isn’t sheltered from the worst side of society. Crimes against children will happen again. It’s this community’s capacity for reacting with a healthy rage when they do, and preventing as many as possible, that is the measure of its character.