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As a reporter I am used to asking questions. Sometimes the answers are obvious and other times they are hidden.
This Sunday evening before the Fourth of July, I have one question that has plagued me since March 1 when I first found out a 3-year-old child had been dropped off at the Brunswick Novant Medical Center and died shortly after.
How could anyone kill a 3-year-old child?
I just don’t understand.
After months of waiting, the autopsy and toxicology for Jaronn McAllister arrived late last week at the Beacon office.
In my career as a journalist, I have written about some horrific events but none have stuck with me more than Jaronn’s death.
What happened in the morning hours of March 1 that led to an innocent life being taken?
It has haunted me for four months.
The medical examiner’s report indicated my worst fear—Jaronn’s death was ruled a homicide.
A 3-year-old child was beaten to death.
Jaronn died at the hands of an abuser, an abuser who has yet to be charged with his death, someone who hasn’t been held accountable for his or her actions.
I will spare you the more gruesome details, but Jaronn’s 3-year-old body was covered with nearly 50 purple contusions on his head, chest and abdomen; his liver was lacerated in at least three places and his cause of death was listed as blunt force injuries to the abdomen.
How could anyone hurt an innocent child this way?
It is sickening.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending time with a 3-year-old. The wonder and innocence that filled her eyes was such a special delight. Her tender young spirit was captivating.
She and I jumped waves on the beach. Each time the water splashed, she squealed and laughed. Holding her precious little hand in mine, I thought of nothing but protecting her, cherishing her and loving her.
At home we played a Dr. Seuss game. I watched in amazement as she practiced counting, recognizing pictures and colors. In the car, she blew me away as she sang her ABC’s.
She is 3.
I laughed as she drew a circle on my arm and said, “Circle, circle, dot, dot, now you’ve had your cootie shot.”
I laughed even harder when she reached up and honked my nose.
She is 3.
When we cleared the table after dinner and an open packet of soy sauce spilled on her hand and her blankie, tears streamed down her face. Her emotions were pure. She was worried the “icky sauce” would hurt her.
She is 3.
Jaronn was 3.
How can anyone raise a hand to harm a child?
Don’t stand back and look the other way if you suspect a child is being abused. As an adult, you know what is right and wrong. A child may think this type of treatment is normal because that is all they know.
Don’t turn a blind eye.
Get involved. Save a life.
I never met Jaronn. But I will never forget him.
I encourage you not to let his death be in vain. Speak out. Be a voice for an innocent child. You could save a life, and it’s the law.
Here are a few statistics that should open your eyes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website www.cdc.gov says “more than 740,000 children and youth are treated in hospital emergency departments as a result of violence each year—that’s more than 84 every hour. More than 3 million reports of child maltreatment are received by state and local agencies each year—that’s nearly six reports every minute.”
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services at www.ncdhhs.gov/dss offers a variety of information on child abuse and neglect including warning signs and who to contact.
“If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, or if you think a child may have died from being mistreated, you must report what you know to the county Department of Social Services. This is the law (N.C.G.S. § 7B-301). Do not be afraid to report. As long as you are acting in good faith, you cannot be held liable (N.C.G.S. §7B-309),” states the website.
If anyone has information that could help bring justice for Jaronn, speak out. Contact local law enforcement and help put the perpetrator behind bars.
Rachel Johnsonis a staff writer and a columnist at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.