This is the term that news media across the country are using to describe the living conditions of 13 children discovered in a suburban California home. Children were malnourished, abused, tortured, tied with ropes, and some even bound with chains and locks. The children were subject to frequent beatings and even strangulation as punishment. Apparently, they were only permitted to shower once a year and were not even unchained to use the bathroom. Pies were left on the counter for the children to view but they were not allowed to eat them. A 13-year-old girl weighed half of what her normal weight should be for her age!
Reading about how these precious children, ranging in age from 2 to 29, were treated is sickening. The most disgusting revelation is that the parents were the perpetrators! What short circuits in the mind of a person anywhere, anytime that would allow them to treat another person so horribly? But even more troubling is what short circuits in a parent that allows them to abuse their own children to this level?
Sadly, hundreds of thousands of children across the country suffer maltreatment. Sometimes it is the cruel abuse these 13 children suffered but often it is the result of poverty that leads to homelessness, drug or alcohol use and abuse that result in neglect, a single parent without the skills or resources to care for multiple children, a grandparent with limited resources who has been thrust back into the role of a parent, or parents who are facing incarceration for bad choices. There are many factors that can lead to children not receiving the nurture and care they need and deserve.
At New Pathways for Children, we are working to intervene in the lives of struggling families with an offer to care for children in a safe home while the parent or caregiver works to “right the ship” of their life. We provide around the clock supervision, daily meals and snacks, mentoring, social skills training, educational support, and spiritual development. We want to help parents avoid losing custody of their children to a state system that too often fails the family and creates more problems than solutions. New Pathways can help be part of the solution at no cost to the family for children to enter our program. We help bring hope to children in crisis because no child should ever have to live in a “house of horrors!”