Having recently read the disturbing book, A Child Called “It,” I'm left wondering, how could a mother do such horrific things to her own child? Beyond that, would I see the signs if a child I knew was being abused?
The book is written by Dave Pelzer, who writes that his mother psychologically and physically abused him from the time he was 5 until age 12, when school staff finally picked up on his situation.
What mother could force their child to drink straight ammonia and Clorox, lay in a cold bath for hours on end, and starve for days at a time? These are minor examples of the tortures she put him through, according to his testament.
He often came to school with bruises, cuts, and burns, but had a prepared excuse, provided by "Mother." Excuses are not uncommon.
His slim body was barely covered by “Swiss cheese” clothing (filled with holes and never washed). His body odor was another sure sign that something was amiss at home; a caring parent wouldn't allow something like that to go on.
Amazingly, Pelzer survived the torment and joined the Air Force to later become an author. What an extraordinary story of the will to live!
In the book's dedication, Pelzer acknowledges his appreciation to those who saved him - his teachers.
I’ve heard comments about teachers and the perks they receive. People gripe about their salaries, benefits, and time off.
No one mentions this part of the profession -- the part that requires them to be "on" every single day, so they can be in tune when something is amiss.
In my opinion, this is one of the most critical elements of their job.
Teachers are not only educators; they are harbors for safety. They are capable of seeing red flags and making a difference in children’s lives.
In Pelzer's story, his teachers made the difference. They SAVED his life!
We ALL need to open our eyes. We need to be more aware of the signs that are around us. That sixth sense is there for a reason. Let’s start to use it!
About five children die every day from abuse and neglect in our country. For more statistics on child abuse in the United States, visit the National Children's Alliance website.