Saturday, June 22, 2013

Father's Day

It was Father's Day last Sunday. My wife and daughter decided to take me to breakfast to my favorite restaurant. While we sat at the table, I saw a family sitting some distance away from us. They did not see us. At the table were a mom, her oldest son and her 2 daughters. There was no man at the table. I recognized them from clinic. The children had missed their well child visits, although I did not know why. Seeing them on Father's day was poignant. There is a story there.

A year or so ago, it was a Friday afternoon and I was going in to an examining room to see the last patients for the day. It was a well child for 3 siblings. We were runny behind and I was tired. I was scheduled to fly out of the country the next day to visit my family in Panama.

As the clinic visit unfolded, it became clear that their dad was physically abusing the children. He hated the oldest one, since he was a step-son. He had no patience with the younger ones. They were traumatized. After investigation, the father was removed from the home and mandated to go to anger management. When I saw the children in a follow up visit, the youngest one said to me:

"I miss my daddy! It's my fault he had to go away. I broke something and I made him angry. It was my fault!"

It broke my heart.

That was the family sitting at the table in the restaurant... without the dad. I did that.

Pediatricians are mandatory reporters of child abuse.

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