Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More on Danieal Kelly

Professor Sobsey over at the International Coalition on Abuse and Disability blog (ICAD) has posted these thoughts about the death by starvation and neglect of Danieal Kelly and the recent charging of nine people in relation to her death. He blogs:

Two things make this case stand out:

1. While it is not rare for parents to be charged in the death of a child through neglect, it is very unusual for criminal charges to be brought against child protection or social workers for failure to protect a child.

2. In some cases, a child’s disability has been used as a convenient excuse for not holding caregivers responsible. There have been a number of cases of children with disabilities being starved and neglected to death or near death before, and the death has often been blamed on the child’s disability, rather than fatal neglect. In this case, the unnecessary death of a child with a disability was taken seriously.

Both of these things are good signs. They will help wake up people in the system and in the general public to a higher level of accountability and that is good. We should be glad to see weaknesses in the system exposed because it is an essential step in improving the system. However, exposing these weaknesses, or even punishing a handful of people, is not enough to ensure that meaningful change takes place. These actions only have meaning if they are followed up by system reform.

To read the rest of Professor Sobsey's post about what is happening with this case, see here: