The briefest amount of background for people not around these parts: a 9-year-old girl was murdered by a family friend. The mother was sick and the girl and her two sisters had been staying with the friend for a number of days before the murder.
Here is what is weighing on me (other than all the obvious things about the horrible nature of the crime, which is so gruesome I can’t even think about it). A lot of people are posting about it on Facebook, and there seems to be a heap of guilt being thrown at the mother. I have seen a number of comments about bad parenting, bad decisions, the children not being protected from this monster. (Make no mistake – I agree that he’s a monster. And he apparently confessed, so I feel ok judging HIM prior to his conviction.)
None of us knows anything about the specifics of this woman’s situation, so we aren’t in any position to be condemning. I know people are trying to make sense of this and trying to reassure themselves that it can’t happen to THEM. I saw one post that this is why she never leaves her children with anyone she’s not related to. Um. What? That’s what makes this so scary. Child molesters, rapists, murderers – typically they are people you KNOW. Your neighbor, your friend, your spouse, someone from church. They don’t look like monsters. They don’t have a big “X” on their foreheads. And how many people are doing criminal background checks on their friends? Seriously?
I’m not a parent and I can’t pretend to know what it’s like. But the idea that people shouldn’t rely on friends, that parents shouldn’t ask for assistance when they need it, that trusting people who aren’t blood relatives is somehow wrong and that this woman is to blame for the tragedy that happened to her family makes me ill. She already has to live with this for the rest of her life; she doesn’t need the rest of the world blaming her. Let’s not be in such a rush to damn her.
I know it’s scary to be powerless. It would be so much easier to make sense of tragedies like these if there were someone to blame, if we could believe that this can only happen to someone who has made a mistake. We don’t want bad things to happen to good people. But sometimes they do. And sometimes there is no reason why, or if you’re a person of greater faith than I am, we can’t understand that reason.
I am not suggesting parents don’t need to be vigilant. Things get scarier around here (Earth) every day. But how about if our initial knee-jerk reaction is compassion for the survivors instead of blame?