Candles, Flowers and Teddy Bears Do Nothing to Help a Dead Child…and Even Less for the Living.

Where were all the grief-stricken Alvarado Park neighborhood residents when a young mother was spending the night in the park because she had no place to go? What if she’d knocked on a door and said, “Can I spend the night here?” Would any of them offered her shelter? Maybe it’s because grief and outrage are easier than outreach.

Nearly four thousand dollars was raised for a funeral, so the toddler “could be buried in a tuxedo” as one person interviewed by the ABQ Journal stated. Think how that money could have helped Baby Angel and his mother: counseling, parenting classes an apartment.

The situation of “Baby Angel” is repeated over and over again throughout the city and state. The only difference is that Baby Angel’s situation ended with murder. As a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children in state custody, I’ve seen first hand the emotional wreckage of child abuse and neglect, the outcome of parents ill-prepared to be parents, parents who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction and a myriad other emotional issues.

There are thousands of children living in emotionally or physically abusive or neglected circumstances in the State. If they are taken out of these homes, where do they go? In 2007 nearly 2500 were in foster care and good, loving foster parents are in short supply. It’s a tough job requiring a high degree of emotional courage to take in these damaged children. Wonder if any of the people crying at Baby Angel’s planned funeral at a multi-media mega-church would be interested in taking in one of these lost children?

Toddlers are cute and their abuse is heart-wrenching. But when they grow up to be angry, lost teenagers they’re not so cute any more, especially if they mug you for your iPod or break into your house. Visit the Juvenile Detention Center and see 12-year olds in handcuffs. Once upon a time they were toddlers in monster truck T-shirts playing with toys. They are Baby Angels growing up to be tomorrow’s addicts, criminals, and yes, abusive parents.

Every Sunday that Albuquerque Journal runs a tiny little column about a child in state custody looking for a “forever family” after parental rights have been terminated. Usually there’s a two-page spread of shelter animals awaiting adoption. “Special needs” dogs needing homes occasionally make the front page. Certainly the humane treatment of animals is important, but what about children?

Instead of taking candles and teddy bears to a memorial, make a contribution of time and effort or money to the damaged children of the community—yes, even the surly, un-cute teenagers—who are still alive. There are plenty of organizations, these are just a few: Cuidando Los Niños provides services to homeless children and their families 843-9408. (Look in the faces of the children on their website http://www.clnkids.org/.)
Big Brothers Big Sisters 837-9223 .
New Day Youth Shelter 260-9912
Bernallilo County CASA 841-7388
Sandoval County CASA 720-7030

And, if you’ve really got a lot of courage and want to help, become a foster parent. 1-800-432-2075

Do what you can for the living children and their families who need help. They are all Baby Angels in waiting.

Update: Just for perspective in 2007 there were nearly 9500 reported case of abuse or neglect in Bernalillo county. Of those reports nearly 4500 were found to have merit warranting a CYFD investigation. People, that is JUST Bernalillo county. It's a lot of children needing help.

Tags: Angel, Baby, abused, children, neglected

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This story and the situations surrounding it have haunted me. Thank you for putting into words exactly how so many of us have been feeling.
bravo Athena. The grand gesture, there is something creepy about it.
actually the more people distance themselves from the pain and hopelessness that walks our streets everyday and every night, the more they turn a blind eye and heart and think that institutions will take care of these problems(even though they dont or cant, at least not enough) the grander the gesture seem to get.
I hate to bring up old news, however this seems to be the time. This was a tragic case and has been broadcast as a tragedy. I agree, but am perplexed at the difference between this tragedy and the "west mesa mystery". 12 women and an unborn child were killed, but due to the fact that they were grown women living an unendearing lifestyle, compassion was not given as was in this case. Murdering another human is wrong, regardless of their social status. I hope the funerals of those unfortunate women are paid for, and that a plaque lamenting the social ills that caused their deaths is placed within that new subdivision. We are all one...whether young and innocent, or a lost soul. Any loss of life from violence is a important societal issue.
Agreed,
Did you know half those women on the West Mesa were on the waiting list at the same types of charities that Athena advocates? It is a major societal problem, when a woman has to leave her child with parents in order to turn tricks to support them and a drug habit. When she tries but can't get treatment that is so desperately searched for. We have some severe lack of compassion for the human element in our society.
I believe Tiffanie Toribio may have also had some drug issues the way her mental attitude led her to think that sparing her son involved his death. That is a completely unnatural reaction and I believe she had a psychotic break that night that was irriversible. People seem to believe she made some kind of rational decision when she carried out that unspeakable act, she did not.

So many people have said in days past that they too, have tried to get help and it isn't as available as the powers that be have indicated. Athena is right, there are dozens of dogs on the adoption list and only one child. There are thousands going to animal shelters and barely hundreds going to Barrett House, Joy Junction and all of those places Athena lists here. Government institutional help? ha ha ha...

We all need to do better. Nobody in this desperate a situation should be handed a card at a police station and sent "home". Please folks give to the human charities set up a 20 dollar a month revolving contribution. Make your elected officials aware you want no more pet projects that aren't based on solving human crisises in this state first and foremost. 25% of NM kids are hungry every day.
No more railrunner, no more spaceports, no more! This is about representing their constituents those who need help most. We will never be a prosperous state until we address these issues.
right on. the mother made the worst choice, thinking she had no choice at all. thank you for this very true piece.
I think all of us sane moms wish we would have had a chance to talk to her before it was too late. But so many people did indeed turn a blind eye to her desperation.
However, I sincerely doubt the two male "friends" were helping Tiffanie, they didn't call CYFD becuase the party boys were using her. And in her desperation for shelter she succumbed to that last currency she had. When these inhumane wretches tired of her, they turned her and Ty out. Now they, like so many others are using the old CYA maneuver and saying they saw her neglect Ty. There is a lot of that going around.
It is hard to find options when a three year old is trailing you, you have no phone, no money, no food, nothing at all and even the police won't arrest you when you ask nicely.
When I see children alone I stop and ask where is your mommy. Usually they are right there, but what if she isn't. Tiffanie let Ty trail her on a busy street for dozens of yards behind her yet nobody said anything until after he was dead. This woman quietly begged for help. Had she screamed instead she might have been noticed but at this point who really knows.
I don't get the need for the community to keep holding candlelight vigils each night from now on. Last night a woman on camera said they would do so for as 'long as necessary'. Why? The little boy has been identified, his body claimed by Zia Pueblo's Govenor, a traditional burial will be closed to the public at the Pueblo, there is going to be a public memorial at Calvary next Tuesday, and the mother has confessed and is in jail.

Why is the neighborhood continuing with candlelight 'vigils' nightly?
I’m perplexed how the majority (see group think) have reacted to this discussion. It sure must be lonely up there on your soap boxes. Calling the grieving process by others creepy and calling the community selfish for creating/having the/a memorial.

I pose this question to the majority that has posted on this discussion: What have you done to help the homeless, the less fortunate, the children, women and men that have been abused? Remember Athena works for one of these organizations (the state) that failed to help Ty and his mother. It’s her job to work with this portion of the population.

Did any of you think that the people that are placing candles and teddy bears might be working two jobs just to survive? They might not have the time or money to help this portion of the population, which is why these organizations exist. What is creepy is how everyone has responded to this discussion. To judge people simply because they react differently than you (one’s self) to death—that’s creepy. This discussion seems to speak to separatism and segregation, that neighborhood and those people. I guess that one would expect this type of reaction when one is judging others instead of embracing our differences! This is my last post in this discussion—I’m disgusted!
Please don't throw me in the "...creepy how everyone responded..." category. See my earlier comment. I hear what you are saying and agree whole-heartedly. FWIW, I work regularly at Project Share. I have to tell you that the increase in number of families and single parents with children coming in for assistance as compared to just a year or two past is alarming.

Sure, the assistance for this young women is out there; Barret House, Joy Junction, etc... But how is she supposed to find out about those opportunities? I do not see a single flyer for these organizations at Project Share and that probably holds true for other points of assistance.
Tricross, I did not count you as the majority. I saw your post and I appriciate what you had to say.
Anthony: Before you get up on your soap box, perhaps you should educate yourself about what exactly various organizations actually do. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a national organization of highly-trained volunteers who serve as the eyes and ears of the court to represent the best interests of children in state custody. We have nothing to do with CYFD or any other state organization. In fact, the CASA volunteer is the only person involved in an abuse or neglect case that does not have a financial interest in the case because we are strictly volunteers. Indeed, some CYFD social workers consider us to be " a pain" because we don't always agree with CYFD in our court reports. We are assigned a case AFTER the child has been removed from an abusive or neglectful situation. Therefore, I find it curious that you could say I am involved in an organization that "failed" Ty and his mother. REPEAT: CASAs do not work for the state. We work for the child.

Things get changed in society by active dialog. I pointed out the actual things people could do to help if they chose to and provided the contact information. And I stand by my assertion that the efforts and money in reaction to this tragedy are misplaced. The $4000 collected --according to a news report last night-- is going to food for the memorial service and then "to the park". I'm sure Barrett House, Joy Junction or any other organization that tries to help women in difficult situations would appreciate a large donation like that.

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