In the now-historic legal battle, leaving a nation stunned and bumbling from duct tape to dysfunction, we saw the unravelling of a tightly wrapped family go from the courtroom to the circus tent in a matter of seconds. I have to leave all of this behind with the feeling that We the People did not need the death of two daughters to level things out.
Casey Anthony lives but has not won.
While not as polarizing as the O.J. Simpson verdict, the Anthony trial has found its place in the books next to the former athlete. The public outcry is almost in unison.
I imagine that if Ms. Anthony follows suit, she’ll be out looking for the “real killer” as soon as she’s sprung from the pokey. O.J. did, from the comfort of his golf cart. I imagine this mother of the year will return to the dance floor soon, giving an interview or two, finding a source of adulation in the celebrity criminal spotlight that she apparently never got from her own family.
As the sun went down on Tuesday’s verdict, I noticed a flurry of posts on Facebook urging people to turn on the front porch light for Caylee. Kind of like the luminescent version of a yellow ribbon around a tree. She’s not coming home, she has gone home. I hope Caylee is sitting in the company of angels where she will someday dignify earth with her return to a better story.
But one porch light is not enough.
As for the frenzied media coverage–and it is said that the media becomes the 13th juror–this would have been a good year to be under a rock but it was a train wreck that included more passengers than just two-year-old Caylee Anthony.
While justice was reportedly served, there a thousands of children waiting in line to be heard. They are missing or dead, abused all their lives or plucked from their environment in a moment’s time. The best national estimates for the number of missing children are found in the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children released in 2002 by the National Center for Missing & exploited Children
• 800,000 children younger than 18 are missing each year, or an average of 2,000 children reported missing each day;
• 200,000 children were abducted by family members;
• 58,000 children were abducted by nonfamily members; and
• 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. These crimes involve someone the child does not know, or knows only slightly, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.
While the gesture of Leave a Porch Light On for Caylee helped to warm many a broken heart, we need to take it one step further and not turn it off. This landmark case, at its most positive moment, will illuminate the need for us to take more responsibility for the children we bear, the children in our family, of our friends, and children of neighbors and strangers. There a countless humans under the age of 18 who deserve so much more.
We’ve come a long way from the “milk carton kids” that used to stare out at my and my siblings at the breakfast table of the 70s. That campaign at least launched local and national programs and created an awareness of our flawed society. And while abuse, kidnapping and murder have practically become and industry, so has the legal system. Getting a negligent parent off the hook seems to drive the high-powered brokers.
Bad decisions of men and women go on to haunt, harm and kill their offspring. Many of those children should never have been born or released into the “care” of many households. Can we throw some water on the need for birth control? Incentive measures for tying a few tubes or vasectomies? Working with fostering and adoption agencies needs to be organized and strengthened.
So, yes–shed some light on this travesty of nature, society and justice by leaving your porch light on. By day, make a lot of noise. Justice for children at risk needs to start before they are missing or dead. Get the facts and learn more about what can be accomplished at www.missingkids.com.
If Karma is a bitch, then Casey Anthony is her next victim.