Monday, February 16, 2009

Our Lost Children

by Katherine Scardino

Erin was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1987. She had an older sister and two parents struggling with substance abuse—her mother even used drugs during her pregnancy with Erin. Her mother did not last long with this family—she left when Erin was barely a year old. The children stayed with their biological father, who was a chronic alcoholic. At age 4, Erin and her sister went to live with an aunt in another state. Her father was struggling with a heroin addiction, but this new home with their aunt was as bad as the last. The aunt was physically and emotionally abusive to both girls and was finally arrested for drug smuggling.

At age 6, Erin met her stepbrother, who was 13 years old and had developed a penchant for anal sex—with Erin, which went on for several years. During this time, Erin’s older sister began giving her alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana. Erin was not yet 8-years-old, but she would already—like so many adults—drink to the point of passing out, probably as a way to deal with the sexual abuse.

When Erin was around eight years old, CPS woke up and became involved with the family. The girls were put into foster homes for a while, but went back home with their father and his wife. The heroin addiction had been dormant for a while, but it again reared its ugly head around this time, but the children knew what to do to avoid a bad situation—they smoked joints and drank alcohol. It was not until Erin made an allegation of sexual abuse against her father that CPS placed the girls in a foster home. At that point, Erin was labeled as "emotionally disturbed." She and her foster brother become sexually active—the same foster brother who fathered a child with Erin’s older sister.

At age 12, Erin was reunited with her birth mother and the girls moved in with their mother for a while. This "reunion" was seen on the Maury Povich show. The audience saw a gorgeous, red-haired, green-eyed young girl. They did not see an emotionally disturbed, sexually active, drug addicted child. The audience did not know that she was using cocaine and had been raped by three males while on cocaine. At age 14, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. (What a surprise!) She remained there for 30 days, and when it was time for her to be discharged, no one wanted her. She went to an emergency shelter and called her father. CPS allowed her to live with him again.

By age 16, Erin was not only stripping at cheap beer joints but she began prostituting to maintain her drug habit, which now had progressed to daily crack, in addition to alcohol and pot. At no point did CPS intervene and court order treatment or provide alternative options to help her. Her life was spiraling out of control. She was living on the streets or with anyone who had a roof over their head.

Erin is now twenty-one years old. She has experienced sexual abuse, rape, suicide attempts, abandonment, family dysfunction, drug abuse, neglect, multiple psychiatric/drug hospitalizations. She has also just pleaded to 40 years in prison for the murder of a young man—during a robbery—with her druggie boyfriend. This life in prison should be a piece of cake for her.


Delilah said...

Is our "system" and families so broken that it allows our children to be throwaway members of society? From what I've read this young girl's life just didn't count, she was something to be used and tossed aside with nowhere to turn but to the bottom of a bottle and drugs to numb the pain she was born into.

Who is held accountable for a life ruined, not by her doing or her choice? Life in prison will probably be better than she has had on the streets.

What a sad statement.

FleaStiff said...

Does anyone have a running tally of how much Erin has cost society and a projection of how much her incarceration will cost society in the future?

cheryl said...

This is so very sad.

Sometimes I really get to feeling sorry for myself.(I lost a client, my back hurts, etc.) I read something like this and it jolts me out of my own personal misery.

FleaStiff said...

>She has experienced sexual abuse, rape, suicide attempts, abandonment, family dysfunction, drug abuse, neglect,
>multiple psychiatric/drug hospitalizations.

But the policy of re-uniting her with her mother and father was followed, so since policy was followed all is right with the world.

Kathryn Casey said...

You're right, Katherine. Some kids just don't have a chance.

Anon said...

In one sense it really doesn't seem right to imprison Erin, even for a murder. She may be 21 years old chronologically but what is she mentally & emotionally?? She spent too much time surviving her childhood to mature the way she should have and would have under "normal" circumstances. Yet again, more government agencies not doing their jobs and not being held accountable.

Jan C, said...

It's probably cheaper to "warehouse" Erin in a prison than to actually try and fix her now, if it is even possible to un-do the damage that has been done to her.

We are losing a big part of this generation, potential that will never be known. It is the job of parents to raise their children, but when they fail, then what? When the government fails, then jail?

Too much pain, too much suffering.

No one, much less a child, should have to live through this.

Felicia Donovan said...

When you work in law enforcement, you become almost expectant that children who suffer abuse will continue the cycle of abuse because you deal with the same families over and over again. That may sound cynical and probably is, but it's the reality that reflects the ignorant, desperate and abusive environments that so many of these children are raised in.

For every Erin, there's a thousand children suffering the same cycle of abuse at the hands of a family member. Prison? She's already been given a life sentence as a victim...

Tara said...

The Bible says it clearly. The sins of the Father are visited on the generations. Any compassion we show to anyone caught in the web of addiction can potentially spare generations of pain. The children are the victims who become the adults who victimize. No deed is too small. The only power we have is to reach outside of our comfort zone and let society's "undesirables" know that we are not going to hold them back by pigeonholing them and leaving them no options. Jesus dined with the prostitutes.