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For kids' sake, expect the worst

| December 15, 2010 8:00 PM

In this season of joy and optimism, stories like those of the abused 2-year-old twins hurt more than ever. Christmas is almost here, yet nowhere were charity and love less apparent than in that despicable apartment.

As we've said before in cases involving neglect or other forms of abuse, often horrific in severity and longevity before coming to light, the entire community is at fault. Generally speaking, we all share the blame because we choose to ignore signs that suggest something is awfully amiss.

Those in law enforcement and social services shoulder their share of the blame, certainly. One of the culprits in bad situations being misdiagnosed, reluctantly accepted or readily explained is the observer's state of mind. Unfortunately, the more optimistic the observer, perhaps, the easier it might be to rationalize a situation that doesn't seem quite right.

So, even in this season of joy, we are reminded that when it comes to the welfare of children, it pays to be skeptical. For their sake, it is better to expect the worst than to steadfastly hope for the best. If their parents or other relatives won't protect them, the responsibility falls to society; law enforcement and social services, yes, but also to teachers, to neighbors, even to passers-by.

We applaud the fact that this community responds so quickly and generously when horrors like those endured by the Crossley twins are disclosed. However, again, we urge a healthy measure of skepticism.

When fundraisers are held or bank accounts or trust funds for victims are established, treat them like your own investments. Ensure that they are competently and transparently administered before deciding to contribute to them. The key is asking tough questions - because if tough questions had been asked much earlier in the entire process, tragedy might have been averted altogether.

Press poll reflects readers' anger

The most recent poll on cdapress.com asked, "What should happen to the mother and grandmother of the abused 2-year-old twins?" Readers weren't wishy-washy in their response.

• Throw the book at them: 1,235 votes (94 percent)

• Show them mercy: 31 (2 percent)

• Don't know: 48 (4 percent)

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