The one thing that can be prevented

Published 8:55 am Thursday, December 9, 2010

Like many, I usually begin my day with a good dose of national and greater area news.

As of lately, my daily dose of news has been more and more disturbing.

For the past several weeks, it seems every headline I read bears the news of another child or a family of children that has either gone missing or has been brutally murdered. To make it worse most of these children have been killed at the hands of either both or one of their parents.

It seems to be a common crime no matter the parents’ age, background, education, financial or social status. Unfortunately as “advanced” as humans are supposed to be, this heinous type crime seemingly will never go away.

Two of the most recent happened in our region of the country.

Several weeks ago, the case of the missing Hickory 10-year-old, Zahra Baker, caught the attention of national news media outlets.

Baker was a cancer survivor who lost her hearing as well as part of her leg as a result of the disease. Her remains were eventually found in Caldwell County.

From the start, Baker’s stepmother and father have been under a cloud of suspicion. Though the two are currently jailed on other charges and have not been charged with Zahra’s murder, the stepmother admitted to writing a fake ransom note. In addition, other family members have come forward to say the little girl was abused.

Last week in Newport News, Va., a mother was arrested and charged with murder after her seven-year-old son, Charles Poertner, who had Cerebral Palsy, died from severe neglect.

The child was found dead in a filthy home due to severe dehydration as well as nutrition and medical neglect. He weighed only 28 pounds at the time of his death.

While it’s impossible to predict any murder, most of these cases concerning children seem to be the end-result of lengthy child abuse by the parents, something that can be prevented from occurring.

It’s a terrible thought that during this time of year, a joyous season geared toward family unity and the celebration of a blessed child, there are children suffering unspeakable horrors from those who are responsible for their well-being.

Child abuse is something that can be stopped whether it’s through stricter court laws, more vigilance by the Department of Social Services or simply a neighbor, friend or relative stepping up to the plate to report these monsters.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.