A few moments from Saturday during my campaigning in Ward 5B along Oak Hill Avenue via my bike:
1. I was exposed to a screaming tirade from a middle aged man who immediately questioned my political party. I said. “the City Council is non-partisan but I am a registered Democrat.” The next moment he was yelling at me about Democrats lack of support for our president and Justice Kavanaugh. I stood quietly in his driveway, wondering if I should hop on my bike and get out of his range. During a brief lull in his tirade, I quietly said, “I didn’t come to your home to argue.” He firmly responded, “I am not arguing either.” He never took my palm card, doesn’t have any idea what my campaign thoughts are, and never asked me a question except for my political affiliation.
I turned and left without another word.
2. Ten minutes later, I was greeted by a younger man asking if I was Ty the social worker. He shared with me his experience with the Dept. of Children and Family Services. He and his wife have raised a nine year old girl for the past three years after she was removed from her home by DCF. They have been working towards an DCF goal of adoption. Then the case was switched to another city and the goal suddenly changed to reunification. The girl and her foster parents are dismayed and confused. The girl does not want to return to live with the birth mother, who is currently homeless.
Not sure how this will eventually work out, but I appreciated them seeking my council and did my best to help.
3. I was invited into an 85 year old man’s home. He lamented on the changes in his world and said he wouldn’t want to be growing up now. He lives alone with six children scattered around the country. We both enjoyed chatting for a few minutes at his dining room table. He repeated that he didn’t know too much about politics and hoped I’d come back and visit again.
I felt honored to visit this gentleman. I hope we can help him with a break in his property taxes in this home he’s owned for at least 50 years.
I’ve been very troubled about the numerous reports of sexual abuse of children and adults this fall. It’s really sad to learn about abuse in the Massachusetts State House, by United States Senators and rumblings even within the White House. High level politicians seem to be tumbling all around us. But this isn’t limited to national and state leaders. There are sexual predators right here in the Attleboro area.
The Bristol County Children’s Advocacy Center recently told a gathering of local human service providers that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be the victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18. In addition, 1 in 5 teens receive and disseminate sexually explicit images. A recent state audit of the Department of Children and Family Services revealed that sexual violence upon foster children continues to occur at a startling rate. DCF tries to protect approximately 50,000 children and teens from abuse and neglect.
DCF hasn’t reported cases of sexual abuse in the past so we don’t exactly how many youths were affected by predators. Apparently, sexual abuse episodes weren’t considered “critical incidents” until recently. Thankfully, DCF is currently reporting these incidents to the Office of the Child Advocate. Our children need to be protected!
Sexual abuse is not a pretty subject. But it will not begin to subside until we expose the predators.
Rep. Jay Barrows (Mansfield, Foxboro) has joined other legislators on a bill that would broaden mandated reporting of suspected abuse. If the bill passes, reporting would be expanded to include volunteers who work with children on sports teams, YMCA staff, church groups, scouting, etc. I strongly support this effort to extend mandated reporters beyond social workers, teachers, doctors, clergy, and foster parents.
It’s time we shed the light of day on sexual abusers. The emotional scars from abuse can last a lifetime. Please call the DCF Child-At-Risk hotline if you suspect any abuse or neglect. Call 800-792-5200
Let’s protect our children!
Ty Waterman – Democratic Candidate for State Representative – Attleboro, Mass.
Dear Editor: (Letter submitted to the Editor of The Sun Chronicle.)
I am appalled that the Mass. Dept. of Children and Family Services can’t keep track of the children in their care. A recent state audit discovered that DCF was unaware of 42% of the injuries, abuse, and crimes committed against our foster childen in 2014 and 2015! Drug overdoses, burns, broken bones, and even attempted suicides were overlooked. The auditors discovered 260 injuries over a two-year period that were not listed in DCF records.
It’s hard to think about suffering children in Massachusetts during Christmas, 2017. It was also hard during Christmas in the 1840’s in London, wrote Charles Dickens.
I suggest that you come down to see “A Christmas Carol”, performed by a wonderful cast at the Attleboro Community Theatre (ACT) this coming weekend, Dec. 15-17. You’ll see Ebenezer Scrooge (superbly performed by Dave Almeida), ignore and scorn the DCF of his era. He didn’t want to hear about the poor, the abused, and the injured children in London’s care. He was too busy making a good living.
You know the rest of the story. Bob Cratchit (well played by Bob Lively) struggles to keep his family fed and housed properly while Scrooge turns a blind eye to the suffering all around him. Scrooge’s shriveled soul is revealed by the Ghost of Christmas Present (Bob Messier) until he finally sees the error of his ways.
DCF, our Massachusetts government, and each of us can still spread Christmas Cheer into the lives of our foster children. Thanks to our State Auditor, our eyes have been opened. This is the true message of “The Christmas Carol”. Scrooge finally saw the suffering of the children…. and did something about it. Tiny Tim was saved in the end. Let’s save our foster children.
I’ll see you down at the Attleboro Community Theatre this weekend. You’ll love this ageless story.