When will our country invest the appropriate funding to protect our children?
Dr. Michelle Golland: We should all be disgusted with our nation's lack of funding for the basic care and safety of our most precious and vulnerable natural resource: our children. When I read that the family of 8-year-old Robert Manwill, the boy whose body was just found floating in a canal near his mother's home, has open cases of child abuse, I was outraged. I can only imagine the anger of his father, who had to deliver Robert to his mother for court-ordered visitation the day he went missing. We do not know if his mother, Melissa Scott Jenkins, or her boyfriend, Daniel Ehrlick Jr., were involved in the death of Robert, but we certainly know this mother and her boyfriend were not healthy, functional, or capable adults.
On Friday, Idaho police said they feared Robert might have been the "victim of a tragic event." The police also said that evidence was uncovered from the mother's home that points to suspicious circumstances, and they feared Robert may be injured. This was, of course, before his body was found yesterday. Whether or not his mother and her boyfriend were involved in his tragic death, Robert should not have been in a home where both parents already had multiple child abuse allegations against them.
In 2008, Robert's mother pleaded guilty to willfully fracturing the skull of her infant son, Robert's step-brother, by striking his head on "a surface." Before that incident, the infant boy was either in state custody or in his father's care, and Jenkins had visitation rights. Jenkins's boyfriend is not allowed in the presence of his sister by court order as well.
Enough is enough! How as a society do we allow a child to go back into such an obviously dangerous situation? Who is to blame? Is it the judge, the Department of Children and Family Services, or the family? Is it our country that doesn't adequately fund a completely overwhelmed system? Our children have no voice and no power. They don't make the money and they don't make the decisions, so it is up to all of us to stand up to these unjust and tragic situations.
Under any child custody system, Melissa Scott Jenkins should have had at most some sort of supervised visitation -- if that at all. She has clearly proven herself to be a serious danger to children in her care. Only time and good police work will determine what really happened to Robert, but either way, we as a society must better protect our children.
|Dr. Michelle Golland is a USC graduate and a licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY#16974). She works with adults, teens and is an expert in the field of marriage and relationships. Dr. Golland has given her expert advice on CNN, HLN, MSNBC, ABC, and Fox news. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and wonderfully exhausting two children.|