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Keep an eye on all children

It’s the kind of story that turns your stomach. The Associated Press reported last week that federal authorities had arrested a couple in Canton, Ohio, for felony child endangerment. This was after a 7-year-old girl had been pulled from their home after allegedly enduring many months of torture that included being padlocked in a dog cage in the couple’s basement. When she was rescued, the girl weighed 28 pounds.

Think about the 7-year-olds you know. Imagine what it would take to torture and starve them to the point of weighing just 28 pounds.

It is inconceivable to most of us.

But it is a reminder that some children endure the inconceivable behind closed doors. For many of those children, their lifeline in year’s past has been their school, their teachers and administrators who keep an eye on them — and, as mandated reporters, watch for signs of abuse.

While we would like to believe there are no other similar cases in Ohio, undiscovered because the abusers are keeping their children home from school this year in favor of remote learning, the truth is some children’s suffering will go unnoticed because COVID-19 precautions have given their abusers the opportunity to keep them relatively hidden.

In fact, our teachers can probably each name one or two about whom they are desperately worried during this most unusual semester.

We owe them a great deal for taking on a much larger burden than simply being educators to our children.

And we owe it to the kids in our extended families, neighborhoods, churches, even out at the grocery store to be that extra set of eyes when teachers are unable.

“If you see something, say something” should apply just as much to the evil some kids experience every day. Their lives might depend on it.

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