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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Bad attitudes, worse results

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The South Carolina man accused of holding a teenage girl hostage in an underground bunker for 10 days says he turned himself in to police so he could live what he considers an easy life.

"If I gave up, I would have full medical coverage, three meals a day and never have to work again," he wrote WLTX-TV this week.

He'll likely spend the rest of his life in prison for kidnapping the girl, who he said he admires for gaining access to his cell phone, then text messaging her location and situation to her mother.

But what an attitude. Life in prison is a life?

Meanwhile, closer to home, here's an example of someone who's too drunk to care.

We can't name names because a young child is involved and no charges were filed, but Shelbyville police were called to a home Monday after a concerned neighbor noticed a woman and her son had been without electricity for three days.

The neighbor scolded the woman in front of police and told them, "She drinks all day, every day."

Look at excerpts from the police report:

"The trailer had no running water...(it) was absolutely filthy...the child's room had two mattresses on the floor for a bed with no linens and there was an ash tray full of cigarette butts in the bed (along with roaches -- the living kind, not the marijuana type)...I saw no clean dishes in the kitchen, the sink was full of dirty dishes..."

Also noted was the condition of the mother's bedroom -- no linens on the bed and the entire floor covered in dirty clothes.

"I opened the bathroom door to check it out but the smell was too bad to go into the room," the officer wrote.

And the mother was about to be sent to jail for 30 days.

The police left the child with the neighbor for the night while the state Department of Child Services was notified.

What a cruddy situation. It's not pleasant to read or write about. But all of us need a reminder occasionally that there's a not-so-bright side of life adults sometimes fall into. Their children, many of who I suspect weren't wanted and are considered a burden, become innocent victims.

Unfortunately, I've seen worse situations than this, including one where I was with officers immediately after a drug raid and discovered a child's bed which had been shared with an un-housetrained dog. During my time in the home the dog showed more affection to the childen than the parents, especially the enraged father. It was interesting seeing one hardened law enforcement officer having to practically be carried out of the home by other officers due to his disgust with children living under such conditions.

The parents always seem to act the same way in these situations. Often the mother speaks in a dull monotone, seemingly either totally burnt out with life and/or reduced to an emotionless zombie by too many years of substance abuse. If there's a father around, he's often angry at everything and anything. Many times, I suspect, the mother has become what she is due to years of emotional and physical abuse by her husband or live-in.

Is there a solution? Only up to a point. Continuing to fight drug use and alcohol abuse is one never-ending step. Law enforcement can arrest drug dealers and those who are drunk or high -- but there's no real way to fight attitudes which lead people into substance abuse.

And many of these people won't reach out for help because they're too proud, too embarrassed, too afraid or simply accept what they're enduring.

The man in South Carolina, who says he was helped in his alleged crime by his mother and girlfriend, and woman in Shelbyville share one thing: They'll be supported by taxpayers.

Since we all share in their upkeep, we need to share more in finding solutions.

It can start by simply a change of attitude. Care more about those around us, as the neglected child's neighbor above did. Take a stronger stand against substance abuse. And pay more heed to morals and values.

David Melson can be reached at dmelson@t-g.com.

David Melson
On the Loose