Protecting a D.C. Child with Cerebral Palsy.

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Posted on Feb 02, 2015

Children With Cerebral Palsy Need Extra Protection.

A horrible story about a boy with cerebral palsy in Washington, D.C. who was allegedly abused by his mother and her boyfriend appeared in today's Washington Post.  There is lots of other news in the world; but none rings as loudly as a story of abuse of a disabled child.

Nothing is as important as protecting children; especially those with cerebral palsy or other special needs.

The reason should be obvious (it is to all of the parents and families we work with).  Kids and young adults with cerebral palsy sometimes can't speak up for themselves.  They can't tell you what's wrong.  They can't tell someone to stop.

It's hard enough to read about any child being abused.  This story details allegations of imprisonment, with the lock on the boy's bedroom door reversed so he couldn't get out and evidence that his ankles and wrists had been duct taped.  According to the article, the boy was also malnourished because the mother and her boyfriend withheld food.

There are obviously evil people in the world and people with severe mental illness and other factors . What else could possibly explain this?

How Do We Prevent Harm to Children with Cerebral Palsy and Other Disabilities?

This story credits the boy's father (who did not live with him) with recognizing the injuries and weight loss, and taking him to Children's Hospital in D.C. where doctors recognized the abuse and notified the police.

But what took so long? Did anyone see anything that was suspicious? Was a D.C. agency, like Family Services, involved at any point?  Did anyone; family, friend, government, neighbor, church, see anything, or sense anything? Did anybody know about this boy and think to check up on him?

We all have a duty when it comes to kids; to protect them, to keep them safe.

That can be harder to do when a child has cerebral palsy or some other disability.  Depending on the severity of the condition, the child may have severe physical and mental handicaps. The child may not being able to walk, talk, feed himself, etc.  He may not be toilet trained and may have the cognitive ability of a very young child.

He may not be able to tell you about the harms he has suffered.

That is why it is so important for parents and families of children with special needs to have access to resources that will help the child and the family in many ways; education, health, and enrichment.

We have a free, no obligation guide to resources that we developed working with families of children whose cerebral palsy was caused by medical mistakes.  But it's a valuable resource that is free and available to anyone with a special needs child in the Washington, D.C. area . You don't have to be considering a medical malpractice case or working with us to investigate whether medical malpractice caused a child's injuries.

We give it away to anyone who needs it.  We hope it helps you and your child.

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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