Monday, May 17, 2010

The Down Side

It's easy to get jaded working in television. After about three years it feels like you have seen all the stories, and nothing surprises you. You can usually narrow down the outcome of any event to three possibles, and bet on the one it will most likely be. There is a lot of cynicism, and a lot of gallows humor. A lot of the time that's enough to get through the day, and not feel like the job is sucking the life out of us. Then there are the times we get punched in the gut, and there is no way to leave work at the office.

One week a go today a couple reported their four year old son was missing. They said it was the fifth time he had wandered away from their apartment, but that they had always found him close by in the past. At first, we assumed the kid that fallen asleep somewhere, and that when morning came he would be found. I was actually kind of annoyed that another "irresponsible parent" story was taking up airtime. By noon though, we knew something wasn't right. I had a feeling the parents were a bit worse than "irresponsible."

Oh, how I wish I hadn't been right.

The mother and step father of 4-year old Ethan Stacy murdered him. Not only that though, they abused him for days beforehand, and then after his death desecrated his body and buried him in the canyon. Every day last week I thought the worst of the story was over. Every day I was wrong. By the time Thursday rolled around I was ready to scream "ENOUGH! I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANY MORE!" Of course, that's like a doctor saying they are sick of blood, or BP saying they are sick of environmental destruction.

I think I cried more last week than I have in a long time. I was actually dehydrated. And I wasn't alone. Friday morning I went into the office, feeling like I was returning to take one more beating after a week of having the shit kicked out of me. I sat at my desk, started my computer, and looked up to say hello to my co-workers.

My feelings were reflected in every face I saw.

Not one of us was unaffected. Not one of us didn't feel like our hearts had been taken out, stomped on, and put back in. Not one of us wanted to still be reporting on Ethan's story, because not one of us wanted to believe that such a horrible thing could happen.

I struggled all weekend over why we reported the Ethan story at all, and why we went into such detail. After all, it's very easy to write it off as "disaster porn." However, I think it's important for people to know about Ethan. They need to be reminded that monsters really do exist, and that everyone, not just parents, need to be vigilant and protect children from them. Being polite, and turning a blind eye could cost a child his or her life.

At least I hope that's the answer, because it's the only way I can sleep at night. Well, sleep at night and still have a functioning heart.

18 comments:

Cindy said...

I was in Utah last week the day they found him. It absolutely broke my heart. I just do not understand as a mother...I do not get it...
It would be tough to deal with it every day :(

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Oh, so sorry you went through this. I missed this story. But you're right; I do think it's important for people to know what happens to some others so that he didn't die in vain. What a horrible story.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I'm against the death penalty, except for cases like this. Anyone who abuses and murders a child should have the same things done to them that they did to the kid.

Ash said...

i just dont understand how some people can do horrendous things to these little innocent angels. :(((((

Jules said...

It's AMAZING what people do to one another. Being a teacher, I am appalled DAILY by what parents are willing to put their own children through.

It's disgusting.

And maybe one of the reasons I don't want kids.

Kelly said...

People like this are so sick and wrong. How on earth can anyone do something like this to a 4 year old? It just makes me sick. Glad to be a mandatory reporter, too.

Granny Annie said...

We read the story. We follow it in detail. We are searching for clues that will tell us how to recognize the monsters that do these kind of things and how to recognize the precious children that are being abused. We desperately want to save any more Ethans or Adam Walshes from ever facing such ordeals. Then we know our efforts will all be in vain when the courts release the perpetrators early to strike again.

LL Cool Joe said...

So so sad. We have so many cases just like this in the UK too. I think as long as they stories are told in a sensitive way, and not in the way some of our tabloids handle this kind of thing, I think it's important the people know, because as Maureen said, so these children don't die in vain. I'd like to believe it may stop someone doing the same thing to their child, get help, or at least make extended family members more aware of possible abuse within their own families.

Allison said...

Some people really f'ing suck.

Jessica and Reecey said...

I think I have burst into tears at one point during every single day since last Wednesday. It's stories like this one that make me wish I had gone into floral design, or at least something less painful.

Riot Kitty said...

I remember going through similar things while working as a newspaper reporter. As my city editor said, "The truth isn't always pleasant." When it comes to anything violent - especially if there is a child or an animal involved - well, I can't imagine anyone being unaffected. So sorry for the rest of the family.

for a different kind of girl said...

Reading the accounts of this young boy's tragic end made me sick to my stomach. It also broke my heart at the same time. I wish he'd had the chance to grow up and escape that evil hold of influence and the story we'd have one day read about him was one of victory and achievement. I do think, though, that telling this story has value. The sad part is, this won't be the last time a child dies violently at the hands of an adult or a parent who may profess to have loved them; however, this child's life had value and, though it makes us cry and rage, he deserves to be recognized and remembered.

As I type this, I am listening to the news and there was just a story of a man who tried to sell his 3 month old baby for two 40 ounce bottles of beer. Ethan's story, this story...it will, unfortunately, never fail to hurt me over how little some adults can think of their children.

Hippo Brigade said...

I don't like it. I usually read sad story head lines and then skip over the article to something a little more jovial. But you're right. We do have to be reminded that monsters exist. Because Ethan's story is real. And those Mother F'ers need to go down.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I really can't bear it. It breaks my heart into a million pieces.

Ellie

Aunt Juicebox said...

=(

Jessica said...

First, just found your blog as we're both followers of the Bad-Ass Geek. Look forward to seeing your guest post!

Second, I also used to work in TV (production on a local ABC affiliate), and I totally feel your pain. So many terrible stories that you joke your way through so you can sleep at night, and then something happens that you simply cannnot joke about. The other hard part was being the only girl on the team, so sometimes the boys would STILL joke about things while I would cry in the bathroom. So tough, so terrible.

Vic said...

I've always wondered how people who cover the news deal with the horrific stuff they have to report. I agree that it's important to talk about it.

This story made me cry too. There are too, too many sick, depraved people in our society.

(Give your husband a hug for me, too.)

Ellen said...

This is the first I've heard of this and I'm sitting here in tears. Ugh. We had a case here last month... a 4 year old who'd been severely abused... and nearly died at the hands of his mother's boyfriend. The boy's mother just sat there and watched it all happen. I cried all that week... and gave my (almost) 4 year old long hugs every day... somehow wishing that it would take away the pain of 4 year olds suffering everywhere.