Friday, August 28, 2009

Jeffrey Bentler: The author sez we might have stayed in the box indefinitely, if not for some weird confluence of forces in her real world.

Terrence Bentler:
Liked the box. No one was looking at us.

Jeffrey Bentler:
I like being out there. Here. Doing things.

Jeffrey Bentler:
Finding interesting people. Caring people.

Jeffrey Bentler:
Gotta get out of the comfortable, dark box, if things are ever gonna happen.

Terrence Bentler:
There's different ways of making things happen. Not always noisy.

Jeffrey Bentler:
We're words and ideas. We're a form of noise. We might as well be who we are and see what we can do--i Think.

Robert Bentler: um, i had to look up "confluence."

Jeffrey Bentler:
sorry. word wuz used in one of my classes and i decided i liked it a lot . . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jeffrey Bentler: I just figged out "the First catalyst!" . . .

Weston Bentler:
!" . . . ? :b

Jeffrey Bentler:
*shrug* I writes how I feels. If mai feelings change by the second, so goes my punctuation! . @ * & \

Terrence Bentler:
You said people aren't mind-readers. You know most of us are people.

Jeffrey Bentler:
*sigh* "! . . ." means "I'm so excited; now I want you to ask me why . . . !"

Terrence Bentler: Not necessary. Knew the first catalyst 7 yrs. ago. WIN.

Jeffrey Bentler: :( . . . :b

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kerry: If your dad had not "been open about what he thought about," I would still be in Central City . . .

Thursday, August 20, 2009

William Bentler: I'm sorry you lost friends, Jeff.

Jeffrey Bentler:
It's okay Dad, I didn't mind too much. I got it, even then. They weren't ready to look at who I was and what I cared about, so they looked away. But then I could see eye-to-eye even better with my most cared-about friends, so I didn't miss the burned-out connections too much.

Weston Bentler:
It was a little depressing, though, thinking that the only people really looking at you were those who already thought like you; and everyone else just saw a freak.

William Bentler:
Didn't know you felt like "a freak," West?

Weston Bentler:
I didn't. I had a healthy balance between knowing what some saw, and esteeming me within my own value system anyway.

Terrence Bentler:
Don't use the F-word.

Robert Bentler: Yeah, Dad gets all worried

Jeffrey Bentler:
Sorry! Don't worry, Dad--we felt like perfectly normal people living strange lives for a good reason. Sometimes that's just the way it happens and oh well :).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More on forensic (child abuse) pediatrics

In a previous post, I wrote about a Los Angeles child who died from physical abuse. Dae'von Bailey self-reported his abuse on at least two occasions and was seen by a doctor once, after his June 3 report. The examining doctor found no signs of abuse, but on July 23 Dae'von was found obviously beaten, and dead.

The Los Angeles Times article I sourced reported that Los Angeles county has six facilities staffed by "forensic pediatricians and other experts trained to spot abuse," but that Dae'von was never taken to one of these facilities. They also reported that:

"In the wake of Dae'von's death, Supervisor Gloria Molina has proposed a pilot program in parts of the San Gabriel Valley and the Eastside in which all children who come to the county's attention as possible child-abuse victims would be examined at [one of these facilities]."

This suggested action caught my attention. After a bit of dithering (I used to live in Los Angeles but have since moved), I sent an email to Supervisor Molina's office. I quoted the Times report of her proposal. I expressed my opinion that this action would rescue more children. I asked if she was moving forward with the proposal and how I could stay informed of its progress.

I received a prompt reply from Martha Molina-Aviles, Senior Children, Senior and Family Deputy to Supervisor Molina. Ms. Molina-Aviles assured me that she was moving forward with the proposal. Specifically, she is working with county departments to develop a protocol to see more [possibly abused] children at the LAC+USC East San Gabriel Valley Medical Hub.

I felt hopeful after reading this response. In the past three weeks, the importance of forensic (child abuse) pediatrics has come strongly to my attention. Two days before Dae'von's death, a 2-month-old baby was hospitalized with severe brain damage, with the father admitting to handling him roughly (including shaking, smothering) on many occasions. Jack Koller was examined by doctors just days before his hospitalization. He was diagnosed with what in hindsight an expert called "a 'classic' sign of infant abuse," but abuse was not suspected at the time.

They say on the forensics dramas that the body tells tales. This is an important point when it comes to discovering child abuse, a physically harmful crime whose victims are often much less capable of voicing than adults, or even pre-verbal. Let's not wait until the final critical hospitalization, or the autopsy, to listen. Let's get specialty training to doctors, and possibly abused children to specially trained doctors. Children's cancers have specialists. Chronically ill children are seen by specialists. Violence can be life-threatening too.

Child abuse pediatrics is apparently a growing sub-specialty. A recent AP article on the subject was enlightening. I will respect the copyright injunction not to publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute the AP material, but I think they will not mind my linking to it, with a synopsis. The article touches on the need for the sub-specialty, its growth, the limitations in (child abuse symptoms) knowledge and training among general practitioners, and potential drawbacks and cautions to the growth of this sub-specialty.

Even after reading the cautions, I would prefer to see this sub-specialty grow. I would like to know that more doctors are being trained to recognize the symptoms of abuse. I would like to know that possibly abused children are being seen by doctors trained to recognize what their bodies are saying. Even "at the least," a doctor trained in these symptoms will rescue children from real torture--and this is a lot.

I receive much of my story leads from Twitter users. There is a community of focused, passionate child advocates on Twitter, and much thought-provoking conversation on-going on the micro-blogging site. I found the enlightening AP article via @childrensrights and @lhinkle. Thank you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jeffrey Bentler: people aren't mind-readers

Terrence Bentler:

Jeffrey Bentler: i mean if you want to meet friends who think about what u think about, u have to be open about what u think about.

jus something i've been thinking about

Terrence Bentler:
YOU should have no problem with the meeting friends thing then.

Jeffrey Bentler:
'course sometimes I lose friends too and first. I lost most all my high school friends when i kaboomed the cover off what i was thinking about back then. but i made some stellar friendships that wouldn't've been so deep or at all if i'd kept the lid on, you know?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Investing in knowledge to save young lives

On July 21, a 2-month-old baby was hospitalized with severe brain damage. The father has admitted to handling him roughly on many occasions, shaking or smothering him in an attempt to "shut [him] up."

On July 23, a 6-year-old boy was found dead on the floor of his home, with "multiple bruises, to his face, arm, chest, back, wrist and elbow [and feet]."

In both cases, the children were examined by doctors just days or a few weeks before their life-threatening injuries were sustained.

The infant, Jack Koller, was taken to a hospital a few days after a July 9 fall from a changing table, after his mother found blood in his mouth. Doctors diagnosed a torn frenulum, a cut in the connective tissue between the baby's lip and gums. Jack was sent home with his parents (who had not reported the fall). A few days later he was hospitalized with severe brain damage.

Looking back, former [Boulder County] prosecutor Colette Cribari, says that a torn frenulum "is a 'classic' sign of infant abuse," a red flag that many doctors nevertheless miss.

In the case of 6-year-old Dae'von Bailey, on at least two occasions the boy himself reported abuse to school and social workers. Dae'von's most recent report was on June 3, when he told social workers he had been punched in the stomach. The examining doctor reported "no signs of physical abuse," "no concerns," and the report was determined "unfounded." On July 23, Dae'von was found dead.

There is one message that rings out clearly to me, from these two "cases": doctors who examine children need to be trained in recognizing the signs of abuse. Two-month-old Jack is pre-verbal, but (as they say on the forensic dramas), his body was speaking, telling a "classic" tale of ongoing abuse and waving a red flag.

In Dae'von's case, the child himself reported his abuse on at least two occasions. Social workers showed up two weeks after Dae'von's April 27 report that his guardian had shoved him into a sink, injuring his nose. After Dae'von's June 3 report, he was examined by a private practice doctor who found no signs of abuse.

Dae'von resided in Los Angeles County, which has six county-run facilities staffed by "forensic pediatricians and other experts trained to spot abuse." Unfortunately, Dae'von, despite his reports, was never referred to one of these county facilities.

Getting a possibly abused child (promptly) to a forensic pediatrician or other expert requires an investment of attention, time and resources. Training emergency room doctors in the signs of abuse requires an investment of attention, time and resources. It is an investment I believe we must make. This investment will rescue many children from torture and save many lives. We are investing billions of dollars into disease research. This is good, let's keep it up. But violence is a bigger killer of young American children than any disease. Let us invest in the life-saving measures of training doctors to recognize the symptoms of abuse, and getting possibly abused children to the proper "specialists," as we definitely would with a child with cancer, diabetes etc.

I would like to know who is doing what, about this. If you know of a county or other unit that has a system for training doctors in the signs of child abuse, or a system for getting children to trained doctors after reports of abuse, please leave me a comment.

Jack Koller's story was drawn from this news article:

Dae'von Bailey's was drawn from this news article:

Both children's stories came to my attention via @BraveKidsVoices. I admire this Twitter user's dedicated focus on getting kids heard. And whether a child is pre-verbal with only injuries to tell his tale, or a brave little person trying to tell it himself, let's hear them, amplify their voices, and do what needs to be done to put a happier ending on each of their stories.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Jeffrey Bentler: Quality of my profile pic wuz degrading, so I got me another one. "'Til Carolyn learns how to draw . . ."

Everybody should get new pics too. I'll search for them if you tell me what you want. (Call, don't post. The fuzzy pictures are really buggin' me)

Jeffrey Bentler: K, I got 1 fish request from Terrence, spaceship from Robert, one I like my profile pic just fine, thank you from Welcome to Kerry Caution Wild Animals, and 5 I'm thinking bouts it. Well, don't think bouts it too long, k now?