Is there a predator in your home?
Are you sure you know enough about the person lying next to you in bed; the one who has sex with you on occasion but may be raping, fondling or eyeing your child with suggestive eyes when you are not around? Few of us in the Black community want to consider that this could be happening in the places we call home, but it seems that we may need to consider these questions regularly, especially in the aftermath of ten-month-old Da'Niyah Marie Jackson's death in the Pittsburgh area. Are you sure you know enough about the person lying next to you in bed; the one who has sex with you on occasion but may be raping, fondling or eyeing your child with suggestive eyes when you are not around? Few of us in the Black community want to consider that this could be happening in the places we call home, but it seems that we may need to consider these questions regularly, especially in the aftermath of ten-month- old Da'Niyah Marie Jackson's death in the Pittsburgh area.
News reports stated that, on Nov. 16, her mother, LaToya Jackson, went to waitress a twelve-hour shift at her place of employment, leaving her live-in boyfriend, Clinton Smith, 30, in charge of the toddler and also his own two-year-old son. It remains unclear whether Smith was the girl's father. When Ms. Jackson returned home that night, she found her daughter bruised, unresponsive and, hours later, she was hospitalized and on life support. After the child's death the next day, Smith--already jailed--was charged with homicide, in addition to previously filed charges of "aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, rape and endangering a child."
Pictured: Da'Niyah Marie Jackson
It was also reported that one of his ex-girlfriends took out a "protection from abuse" order against him last summer after he assaulted her and their young daughter. Despite that, one year later he was living with the Jacksons and being left as caretaker of Da'Niyah, a young and precious girl who it appears was sexually tortured by him. Not surprisingly, Smith denies the sexual offense but has admitted to "playing with" the child and also placing his hand on her chest and pressing down with his full body weight. He also reportedly told investigators that his son caused some of the girl's injuries.
No one is to blame for this man's actions other than himself, just as all victimizers should be blamed for the criminal acts they commit, but how many more children must be abused, raped or murdered by the live-in boyfriends of their mothers--or by deceitful husbands, fathers, uncles, grandfathers or family friends--because mothers have become too trusting and/or too careless about who they allow to care for their children?
Many who read about Da'Niyah's tragic death are rightfully outraged, but the cold reality is that the experiences of thousands of other children and babies who are victimized daily and survive are never widely reported or heard about. What will it take for mothers and guardians to become more selective about whom to leave their children with? Maybe many, after looking at the photo of Da'Niyah's unblemished and pure face, will begin asking: "Is there a sexual predator in my home?"
Additionally, should those who often rally and protest about crimes and inequities committed against Blacks by whites, cease and desist until they can at least invest equal amounts of time addressing Black-on-Black crime and violence? How much justice do we expect to get from others, including the U.S. government, when our actions appear to show that we care little, if anything, about the victimization of the weakest members of our community by our own people?
Let us all stare into the captivating eyes of Da'Niyah Jackson and consider that she would have us to take the blinders off and acknowledge that sexual abuse of Black children by Black men primarily (but some women as well) is one of the most serious and damaging issues we face--possibly more serious than "racism," DWB, drugs, AIDS or various other physical health ailments which plague us.
MAKE PREVENTION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE A PRIORITY IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
Adeeba Folami is a freelance writer residing in Denver, Colorado. She can be reached via her website: http://bhonline.org.