^ Bella Bond, a life in isolation ending anonymously

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We in Boston are all upset to the max to discover that “baby Doe” lived immediately among us, next doot to neighbors whose kids played with her one day and then not the next. We are shocked to find that “Baby Doe,” now identified as Bella Bond, was killed at home, next door to those neighbors who, with her picture posted everywhere by police seeking to find out who she was, never said a thing; never said “I know that girl !”

Unfortunately, the world in which children like Bella Bond live doesn’t operate as we wish. Dysfunctional families such as Bella’s mother’s live isolated. We can see them on the street; we can live next door; we can play with their kids or say “hi” to the mother, and none of it dents the isolation that I am talking about.

Isolation isn’t merely a skin rash of dysfunctional life; it is central to it. People like Bella Bond’s mother may dwell in addiction; they may live from Food stamp day to food stamp day; they often swerve from one behavioral eruption by their child to the next; or they may be visited by social workers from DCF and ground to bits by DCF administrative procedures. Or they may experience all of the above, for long periods of time. Boyfriends may visit — often dysfunctional themsleves, here today and gone tomorrow, and, while visiting, experiencing the child as an annoyance. A dysfunctional parent often can’t wiat to be free of a child’s constant need for attention — aggravated in a dysfunctional home, where the parent sometimes wants to party, or sleep, or go do drugs : anything that will free her from being lashed to her child. (Note that while i use the proun “her,” the same dysfunction applioes to d ads as well as to moms like Bella’s.)

I could go on for several dozen pages listing the incidebts of conflict, avoidance, disorganization, and obstruction that dysfunctional people swim in. What they all add up to is isolation. Together, conflict — obstruction — disorganization — and avoidance envelop the entire lives of dysfunctional people; indeed, they solifify the dysfunction, isolating a person from the opposite world, the world of order, purpose, breathing room, agreement.

It is hard for a dysfunctional person’s neighbor to grasp that the neighbor lives in a world opposite. All too easy it is to simply assume that that person is having a hard time, or “going through a stretch,” such as we in our own, orderly lives, sometimes do. It’s difficult to see that a dysfunctional person’s “hard time” is, for them, the way it is. Our difficulty at grasping this situation confirms the isolation of dysfunction.

Neighbors of a person living in dysfunction isolation are, after all, neighbors only. They’re not family members. Most neighbors do not mind the business of other neighbors. Many may live in dysfunction themselves. Thus the dysfunctional neighbor becomes just another neighbor, someone whose ways one accepts day by day as life goes on.

We who now express shock about Bella Bond going identified may very well be going unaware of some other child missing or mistreated right under our noses. And we won’t know until something ahppens and the news announces it to us in print or on televsion. So let’s not be judgmental about the Maxwell Street neighbors who did not spring into action as we say we would have done.

It turns out that, according to news reports, Rachelle Bond was well known to police as a drug user and prostitute. DCF had been involved in her life before. We might like to think that this history is exceptional; but it isn’t. It’s commonplace.

As for the thousands of kids who are very likely living in homes as dysfunctional as the Bonds — kids maybe unwanted, fathered by a prostitute’s johns — what of them ? DCF cares for as many as are brought to its attention; but as we all have read recently, DCF does not have either the systemic efficiency or manpower availability to monitor every child brought to its attention. Nor will it ever; because DCF, no matter how effective we make it, cannot live 24-7 with each child, nor would our society condone such administrative imposition on family primacy.

Nor should we. Our society charges parents with caring for children. A person who makes the decision to give birth to a child should, says our society, care for that child as he or she grows to adulthood; it is right and proper that parents be parents and not merely vehicles for birthing. Which responsibility only works if our society grants parents full moral leeway to make these decisions and carry out this mission as free as we can make it of interference by government.

That parents sometimes do not, or by way of dysfunction cannot, do what we give them full freedom to do is the price our society pays — and is right to pay — for sanctioning the primacy of parenting.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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