A tragic day: We need to figure out how to protect children like murdered 11-year-old
Had she not been murdered and abandoned in rural North Carolina, little Zahra Baker would have turned 11 years old today.
But instead of celebrating her victory over cancer and thinking about a wish as she blew out the candles on her birthday cake, this little girl is gone.
No one knows for sure exactly what happened to this child, but they suspect that the people who were supposed to protect her know something about it.
Now that the investigation is progressing, we are learning more and more about what Zahra's life must have been like. Those who knew her before she disappeared are now saying they saw signs of neglect.
The question we need to ask ourselves now is what could this state have done to protect little Zahra? And, locally, are there other children just like her with nowhere to turn and no one to speak for them?
What makes this story so horrible is that this little girl was so brave, so strong. She had beaten cancer, and was managing just fine on a prosthetic leg. People described her as full of life and happiness.
So that makes it all the more tragic that she died before anyone could see that she needed help.
There have always been -- and there always will be -- stories about children who are abused, neglected, murdered. But it is time to start thinking about how to do more than just shake our heads in disbelief when we hear them.
We have to make sure the procedures are in place to protect children like Zahra. No matter what it takes.
Published in Editorials on November 16, 2010 12:53 PM