Innocent child silenced
Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The faces of too many sweet, smiling children are haunting me.
Just last week, on Father’s Day, a boy with a Brewton connection was beaten to death so severely that he was on life support, expected never to recover.
The suspect? His father.
Nathaniel Turner grew up in Eufaula with his maternal grandmother, Christine Taylor, and was a sweet, well-mannered student at Eufaula Primary School and a member of Grace Independent Baptist Church.
Brewton resident Gardeen Carter — Taylor’s aunt —said Nathaniel had visited Brewton a few times, and was always a sweet child.
How little Nathaniel got from his small town in Alabama to his father’s home in Worcester, Mass., near Boston, is a bit of a mystery.
Some relatives believed a judge decided Leslie Schuler could have summer custody of the child, but Nathaniel’s mother’s attorney told the Boston Herald newspaper that they parents arranged his custody agreement before his case made it before a judge.
Nathaniel lived with his father just four weeks before police were called, on Father’s Day, to their home, where a dent in a wall showed just how hard the boy’s head had been slammed into it. Police have said Nathaniel was abused nearly the entire time he was in Worcester.
Schuler and his girlfriend, Tiffany Hyman, now face a multitude of assault charges.
Nathaniel’s dimpled grin, found on news Web sites covering the story, reminds me of the smiling face of Ty Toribio, a 3-year-old boy police say was suffocated by his mother in New Mexico and left buried in the sand of a playground. Before that is was 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers, found in the waters off Galveston, Texas, last year, dead at the hands of her mother and stepfather.
We worry so much — rightfully — about strangers who might take our children.
But all too often the real dangers for children are at home, and there must be so many cases we never even know about.
But someone knows. Someone stands by and does nothing, as police suspect Tiffany Hyman did. Someone sees, like friends of Ty’s mother, who police say turned her out of their homes because of the way she treated her son.
If you ever see or suspect abuse, please call the police. Call the Department of Human Resources. Call the Child Advocacy Center.
Speak for that child, before he or she is silenced forever.
Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.