Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Today's Shame

Give her the Dunce Cap!

  I've known folks who were mentally disabled my entire life.  A neighbor is now in her 60's - physically.  Mentally, closer to 8.  Spiritually, she's an angel.
  Oh, we all know kids who are terrors, and "adult children" can be just the same.  Still, there is a special quality, a special grace given to those who never grow up.  Innocence is a way of life, and joy in so many of their experiences.  My neighbor would grow bored, as many of us do, but she found such joy in very simple things and left me with the understanding that wisdom hides itself in very interesting places.
  When I was young, just graduating from high school and entering into college, I applied for a position working with disabled people.  I did work with the Emotionally Impaired, and the Mentally Impaired, and did some work with Autistic/Mentally Impaired - which is a huge challenge.  But, topping the list of it all were those listed as Severely Mentally Impaired.  I just didn't have enough heart for that group, and hold nothing but respect for those who do.
  But, what do we say when we allow someone, who I will grant has done likely the best she could, to simply dump an adult child by the side of the road?  Did she panic and seek freedom at the moment's whim?  Did she plan this?  When a parent/guardian takes on the responsibility of a child, no matter the age or challenges, then some certain expectations do come along.  Chief among them:  don't leave the child along the side of the road at a bar!

Shame on you, miss!

An interesting issue does arrive:  How do we define "adult"?  Is an adult a person 18 years of age or greater?  Shouldn't there be a certain level of self-sufficiency to establish 'adulthood'?  How about those who are 18 chronologically, but much much younger in all other ways?  For that matter, we are now charging kids as young as 11 as an adult if they do something so irresponsible and unthinking as commit a crime, while at the same time telling anyone under 16 that they can't have sex; telling anyone under the age of 18 that they can't buy smokes; telling anyone under 21 that they can't have alcohol - and yet calling an 11 year old that he's now an adult!   Bah!   Only the government can be this stupid!

(CNN) -- An Illinois woman who left her mentally disabled daughter outside a Tennessee bar cannot be charged with a crime, police said Tuesday.     (video and story available at this link)
Police in Caryville, Tennessee, said the daughter is 19 and not assigned to a legal guardian.

"As terrible as it is, unfortunately there is nothing we can do," Assistant Police Chief Stephanie Smith said. "There is no doubt we need a law for mental health rights, but pending this investigation, we just don't know what else to do."
According to police, Eva Cameron stopped at the Big Orange Bar in Caryville on June 28 when her daughter, Lynn, needed to use the restroom.
The mother left Lynn by the side of the road and returned to her home in Algonquin, Illinois, according to Smith.
"(Lynn) didn't know her age, she didn't know her address, she didn't know her phone number and she didn't even know her name," Smith said.
Eva Cameron told the Northwest Herald newspaper in Illinois that she brought Lynn to Caryville because of its concentration of Baptists and because Tennessee has the "No. 1 health care system in the United States of America."
The young woman's identity was unknown until Caryville police received an anonymous tip on Monday, having released a picture and requested information from the public.
At their request, Eva Cameron had a brief meeting with Caryville police on Tuesday. She signed a statement saying that Lynn Cameron was now a ward of Tennessee, officials said.
"She basically said, 'I don't want her and I don't want to take her.' Then she got in her car and she left," said Smith.
When reached later Tuesday by CNN, Eva Cameron said, "We understand she lost her ID card and that's how the situation has turned into what happened. She's already an adult. I just have to leave it at that."

Eva Cameron would not answer further questions.

Authorities took Lynn Cameron to a hospital, where she was discovered to have only a basic vocabulary of 30-40 words, according to Smith.
A Campbell County Chancery Court order in the case described Lynn Cameron as a "severely disabled adult, suffering from profound mental deficits, and is unable to care for herself or her personal needs."
According to the court, the mother stated "she could not and would not care for Lynn Cameron."
Eva Cameron said that she has another disabled child and that caring for both was too much to handle, according to the Northwest Herald.
Authorities said Lynn Cameron is being cared for at a facility in Roane County.

When asked how the young woman is doing, Smith replied, "Lynn is doing fantastic."


Anonymous said...

Guten Morgen Randy,
this is significant. The state takes care of superficial things, regulates and punishes. But where there is distress - he looks away.
In this case it was the duty of the Youth Office and the school board. These need to intervene and respond in early childhood. The mother is the real victim. She should have received early support for education.
Gruß Nikki

Sammy B said...

Hello Randy
A tragic situation all round. While it's tempting just to say 'shame on you' to the mother, the pressures on her seem to have been overwhelming - there's no mention of a father, for instance. I know and I'll freely admit that if my daughter had been unfortunate enough to have been born mentally handicapped, I would have found it very difficult, if not impossible, to cope with.
Regarding your other point about ages of consent/majority/criminal responsibility, the discrepancies between those ages strike me as not just inconsistent and illogical, but downright hypocritical. The idea of a young person being treated in the same way as an adult criminal at 11 (or even younger, in some cases), but still being considered a helpless, clueless innocent child at 15 years 364 days as soon as sex comes into the equation is ludicrous beyond words.

Love & best wishes
Sammy B