As the father of a 2-year-old, and expecting an addition to the family in early 2015, I have had parenthood on my mind lately--especially during the past three weeks, when my wife and son were out of town visiting family.
Nothing quite compares to the stillness of a house suddenly sans a kid. There's nothing like the vulnerability of knowing he's hundreds of miles away--impossibly far from your ability to keep an eye on him, play with him, make him a snack, read to him, put him to bed and, at the end of the day, sit in the now-quiet living room knowing he's safely asleep on the other side of the wall.
In that vulnerability, parental emotions wander, attaching themselves to children in books, news stories and movies--at some point, I started to get weepy over commercials.
No matter whether or not you're a parent, harm to a child--anybody's child--is unthinkable. Ask Christopher Gunness, a United Nations spokesman who broke down in tears when discussing the deaths of Palestinian children during the current fighting in Gaza.
All politics aside, Gunness' reaction was a human one. In those moments, the greatest injustice imaginable seems to be the subjugation of children to the fallout of adult failures.
That injustice, and the failure to stop it, is at the heart of this week's powerful feature story by Boise Weekly News Editor George Prentice.
On Page 11, Prentice introduces us to Kallen Hazel, a boy who almost from birth suffered the worst forms of abuse at the hands of those most obligated to protect him. The result was a life cast adrift as this child was bounced from foster home to foster home, institution to institution, eventually manifesting a range of pathologies: manipulation, lying, violence and, ultimately, an act of arson that landed him behind bars--as Prentice puts it, "his final placement."
The severity and amount of failures implicit in the trajectory of Hazel's life is astounding. From his parents to the system, to the media and himself, it's as if Hazel didn't stand a chance from the beginning.
It's a hard story to read, but it is an especially important one now, as adult failures punish children everywhere from Gaza to Idaho.