- Politics and Social Issues
Obesity: Enforce Law With a Little Compassion
Obesity: A Growing Problem
Trying to Cope with Obesity
Lost Her Struggle With Obesity
A California mother faced serious criminal charges recently after her 680-pound, 13-year-old daughter died "on a filthy bed sheet, surrounded by empty food cartons, feces in the folds of her body."
Prosecutors charged the mother with misdemeanor child abuse -- and she was convicted -- but she had been threatened with even more serious charges.
Once again "the system" resorted to the age-old tactic often employed by the weak and ineffectual. When things go wrong, blame the victim!
Or, if that's not possible, blame somebody else -- anybody else!
Certainly prosecutors have an obligation to determine whether there is any criminal liability in such cases, but, in this case, where's their compassion?
Overwhelmed by Circumstances
Why do we wait for a young girl in her circumstances to die of heart failure before taking interest in her plight, and in her mother's heartache?
The girl's mother obviously was overwhelmed by her circumstances and, no doubt, had no clue as to where she might have obtained some help.
Taking care of a child under such circumstances is no easy task. Even qualified physicians may not have been able to help this young girl attain an acceptable weight. It is likely the girl's obesity was not a simple question of overeating.
Cutting off her food supply -- the reaction of some people -- would have aggravated the situation, not improved it.
The condition she was found in was sad, indeed. But ask any nurse about the difficulty in caring for such patients. For a mother, on her own, the task -- both physically and psychologically -- was Herculean.
There's no doubt that many mothers in this country face similar circumstances, i.e., children with a wide range of mental or physical deficiencies. When conditions are severe, there may be some organizations that can provide assistance; but, often, there is nowhere for a mother to turn for help.
Fat people, old people and a wide range of ailing individuals often have difficulties that are not commonly recognized -- largely because such difficulties are easy for the rest of us to ignore.
For instance, the elderly -- especially those with no one to help out on a regular basis -- are plagued with "little" problems such as trying to open childproof medicine caps or coping with income tax returns.
Many Fall Through the Cracks
A few good-hearted people and organizations, like the Salvation Army, senior citizen groups or hospices, offer some assistance, but too many needy people fall through the cracks.
What's needed is a greater concern by all of us for those in society who are fighting lonely battles. There are lots of people suffering a whole array of problems and, often, they have no idea of where they might get help.
Why can't our private or governmental agencies look into such potential problems before tragedy brings them to light?
Is anybody listening?
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Jan. 24, 1998. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.