A week of bad news

12 Aug

The past week has been a busy one. For me, personally, as you might have surmised from the lack of posts for a few days. But, in terms of news stories, specifically bad news stories, it has been busy.

Consider this one: Karen McCarron Seeks New Trial, Convicted of Killing Autistic Daughter. This article by Kristina Chew discusses a news story: Convicted child killer petitions court for new trial.

The story of Katie McCarron was discussed a great deal around the time that I was coming online to look for information. Here’s how the Star summarizes the story:

Five years ago, Karen McCarron, an Illinois pathologist, suffocated her three-year-daughter Katherine “Katie” McCarron with a plastic bag in her mother’s house. McCarron then drove the body of her daughter back home and put her to bed as if she were asleep. She was found guilty of killing Katie in 2008, sentenced to 36 years in prison and is incarcerated at the Dwight Correctional Center.

It is just a horrible story of a beautiful little girl who should be growing up. Back when this story broke, it affected many, including Kev and others on the Autism Hub, a great deal. He wrote about the story (see articles under the category Katie)and ended up in communication with Katie’s grandfather, Mike McCarron. Mike responded to the Autism Hub (From Mike McCarron to the Autism Hub).

Mike, I wish your family peace. I wish I had more to offer.

In another news story discussed by Kristina, Mother Kills Self, Autistic Son, In Despair Over School Placement, Kristina writes:

On August 2, the bodies of psychiatrist Margaret Jensvold and her 13-year-old, Ben Barnhard, were found in their home in Kensington, Maryland, an upper-middle class suburb of Washington, D.C. Jensvold, a Johns Hopkins-educated psychiatrist specializing in women’s health who worked at Kaiser Permanente, had left a note:

“School – can’t deal with school system,” the letter began, Jensvold’s sister, Susan Slaughter, told The Associated Press.

And later: “Debt is bleeding me. Strangled by debt.”

The story was carried by Forbes as Md. mom who killed son agonized over school costs.

A third story came out just over a week ago discusses the case of the death of Jawara Henry. The Wall Street Journal carried the story as Supervisor Is Charged in Death of Patient. The story opens with:

A supervisor at a state-run psychiatric center on Staten Island was charged Wednesday in the death last year of an autistic patient undergoing treatment at the facility, authorities said.

Erik Stanley, of Middletown, N.J., used excessive force when he subdued Jawara Henry on Dec. 4, 2010, at the South Beach Psychiatric Center, suffocating the patient with pressure on his neck and torso, Staten Island prosecutors said.

I find these stories obviously very troubling. I also find them very difficult to write about. How can we balance the need to discuss these stories and make it clear that these deaths were all needless, while keeping respect for those directly affected? A writer can try to inform. A writer can express personal outrage. A writer can also use other people’s tragedy for his/her own purposes. It is that third level that slows me down in responding to these stories.

What can I say? There is no reason for Katie McCarron, Margaret Jensvold, Ben Barnhard or Jawara Henry to be dead. There is no excuse, no rationale which explains these events. I wish their families well. I wish them peace. I hope for justice.

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4 Responses to “A week of bad news”

  1. A mom. August 13, 2011 at 05:15 #

    I hope for justice as well. The “system” wants people to kill themselves. This is the new holocaust. Don’t let “them” win. Stay strong, keep fighting!

  2. Gina @ Special Happens August 13, 2011 at 05:25 #

    Every time I hear of stories like these, it saddens my soul. There are no words.

  3. daedalus2u August 13, 2011 at 23:48 #

    a mom, you are correct, that is the objective of individual and institutional bullying.

  4. vmgillen August 15, 2011 at 19:11 #

    Justice. Justice. Justice. Parents with and without diagnoses murder children with and without diagnoses. Deaths in institutional settings require a kind of justice our system isn’t set to handle: social justice. Most people do not need, should not be, wharehoused. Management must be held accountable, as well as direct care workers (that’s what made the Staten Island case remarkable to the Capitalists’ Tool: The Wall Street Journal)Direct care workers must be screened before they’re hired, and respected after they’re hired. Agencies cannot hire the cheapest workers, and then say those workers are worthless and refuse training and deny advancement. Finally, society at large must be engaged – and stop thinking everything involving developmental disabilities is someone else’s bailiwick.

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