Just One Thing…

There are so many sad stories that you can’t get through a week without multiple jaw-dropping moments where children are being abused. In the last 24 hours, I have read about an online predator who tormented young girls online (leading beautiful Amanda Todd to end her life), a police officer who caged and tortured his son in his basement and a child being removed from a loving foster home of 9 years. That is all without making any effort to find those stories…lord knows how many more happened.

As I was thinking about how tragic it has become it dawned on me, part of the problem is ironically the volume. These tragic events are happening so often that before the public actually absorbs the horror they are exposed to another story. This leads to a couple of very bad outcomes – 1) No single story really gets dealt with before its “upstaged” by the next and 2) We become numb to be shocked by children rights being violated. The first story is very sad for the victims and justice while the second belies huge societal problems that we see manifesting itself around the globe.

Rather than belabour the obvious point I would have one “ask” for everyone who reads this post. Would you be willing to do one thing to support children’s rights in 2017? It could be as simple as a call or letter to your elected official, a donation to a non-profit that you believe in, attending a charity event, promote and share the UN Convention on Children’s Rights or even writing an op-ed to your favourite paper.

If every single adult did just one thing in the next 9 months how much farther ahead might we be? That would be tens of millions of actions! So please consider thinking about and doing just one thing in 2017.

 

How?

Literally how? That is how did a beautiful 8-year-old daughter meet her end. How could any person let alone a parent be the person to end a child’s life. You are left with question after question yet do you really want the answer. Many nights are lost wondering, crying and wondering some more.

You never really know when this question will hit you or for how long it will haunt your thoughts. You do know that its always there lurking in the background waiting for its moment. It makes it hard to sleep because the nightmares and anxiety are right around the corner waiting for your weakness. You emotions cycle through grief, anger, sadness and back to anger.

Once you deal with that ugliness the mind wanders to how will you explain it to Teagan’s young brothers (only 10 and 5). How do you tell them? What do you tell them? When do you tell them? I am shocked how little people think about the impact on them – her little brothers have endless curiosity around when Teagan’s killer will get out of jail and whether she wants to kill him too. The reality is they ask about the specific circumstances of her death every few months – and make no mistake they have nightmares as well. Is there any context you can put around this senseless loss that limits the damage and hurt to their sweet little hearts. We have a great community and professionals who support the kids but honestly, they don’t have the answers to these questions – because there are no answers.

As the homicide trial draws closer I wonder will knowing the details of how Teagan’s mother took her life make things better, worse or just different. I see no way it makes it any better as nothing can bring back Teags. It’s a mystery what the ongoing impact of this senseless violence will be on our family and friends. What is not a mystery is how much we loved Teagan and how wrong it is that she is not here today. #RIPTeagan

Murder for Free

This week we have a court decision in Canada that for most people was unfathomable; as unfathomable as the original crime itself. A man who beheaded a stranger on a Greyhound bus and proceeded to cannibalize him was given an absolute discharge…yes you read that right.
As you would expect a great debate ensued on social media on the topic as in this case the murderer Vincent Li had serious mental health problems. If you want a great summary of those who support victims then read this Charles Adler blog – http://charlesadler.com/lets-tell-the-truth/hanging-our-heads-in-shame-for-a-young-man-named-tim-mclean/

A couple of points are brought to the forefront in this case that need to be recognized and then dealt with…

Mental health is too broad a term…so broad to be useless from a policy perspective. The difference between personality disorders vs depression vs psychiatric illness is stark and needs to become part of the discussion. How we treat, deal with and punish people in these different categories is very different – yet we talk about them interchangeably.
Victims Rights and Respect for the Dead – defenders of killers almost always start with what about the rights of the killer. Law should be more than whether someone will kill again. How about rights of victims to live new sadder life, not in fear? What about showing respect to the life lost and the soul taken?
Individual Liberty & Rule of Law – Some crimes so destructive to society that It must have consequences for rule of law and liberty of the innocent to matter. If that does not occur then we will end up over time slowly descending back into a society where vigilante justice becomes somehow logical.
People like to make things black and white – how can you punish someone who was mentally ill. As I hope the above three points start to indicate there are a lot of reasons why we need accountability and consequences to people who infringe on other people rights – particularly when they take them completely away by killing them.

My hope is we can begin to meaningfully talk about this topic before we crush any more victims families. In the meantime, I can only express my deep sorrow to the McLean family and let them know we care. RIP Tim and may the system change to protect others in the future due to your murder.

 

Fall on my Mind

It’s hard to imagine but here we are in early February and I am already thinking about the Fall. As you might expect the reason for that is the trial of Teagan’s killer starts at the end of September. At this point it’s really just a million questions…

It creates such a weird set of contrasting feelings ranging from how is it that it takes 3 years to get to trial? What crazy nonsense will her killer say to distract from the reality she took the life of an innocent child? How to deal with the inevitable media attention? How to use that moment in time to save other children? How to get all your actual work done since the world does not stop for this trial? What to do if she gets off? How to manage the crazies and trolls who come out to attack you during peak media times? How to deal with the bystanders who explain that it was your fault or how you caused this to happen? In a world where facts don’t seem to matter the evil, stupidity and ignorance of many quick surfaces.

Add to the fact that we don’t know how Teagan was murdered and will only find out then. How will that impact us? What will we tell her brothers? Speaking of Teagan’s brothers how do you deal with a month-long homicide trial during the school year? How do we keep attention from her brothers and manage the information about the case they receive? Will the kids in their classes learn about this and how will that play out in the schoolyard? Are we better off staying here with them to manage those potential impacts or in a courtroom playing audience to a cold blooded child killer? The last thing they need is more distraction and disruption in their young lives which have already been robbed of so much innocence. Then there are practical matters of travel, cost and supporting other people who will be in pain during this process.

Those are just a few of the questions and not a single answer to any of them will bring my sweet, beautiful Teagan back to life.

 

Now What?

It’s been awhile since I posted on the blog, which is strange because I certainly don’t lack inspiration or content. However, it can be overwhelming the amount of tragedy that children in North America suffer almost every week.

I am constantly stunned at how many parents literally kill their own children. If you follow our Facebook page you get a sense of just how big the problem is and how dangerous it can be for children in North America (not to mention the rest of the world), How selfish, inexcusable, disgusting and so just everything bad pathetic and evil it is to murder a child. Nevertheless, there is not a lot of value in being horrified and name calling which these emotions can easily bring up.

So it has taken me some time but I have decided that I will try to post a short weekly blog that shares not just my feelings but hopefully also something to action or some inspiration to draw upon. We have been working hard to try and determine what is the best role for Teagan’s Voice and have decided to focus on the following…

  1. Ensuring Governments meet their responsibilities to adhere to the UN Rights of a Child Convention.
  2. Working with Government and Partners to initiate an Annual Children’s Summit for experts, advocates, victims and policymakers to collaborate and innovate.
  3. Supporting children who have lost a sibling to murder or traumatic death.
  4. Using our education, knowledge and first-hand experience to actively participate in policy reforms and inquests.
  5. To preserve the memory of Teagan Batstone who was a special little girl who touched many in life and even more in death.

The path to results will take significant time but we are dedicated to the fight and will work with partners whenever we can to speed up the process. We miss Teagan every single day and her beautiful spirit and soul continues to drive us forward.