Ohio#039;s children can#039;t fall through cracks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Something was seriously wrong in Wakeman - and now the question begs where else in our state are families mistreating their children?

The horrendous story from the small northern Ohio town of Wakeman exploded into the media this week, shocking and appalling all those who read it. Police found a home where 11 adopted children from the ages of 1 to 14 - many with developmental disabilities - were forced to live in tiny cages that would hardly be appropriate for animals.

Parents Mike and Sharon Gravelle have denied any wrong doing and indicated that a psychiatrist recommended the children sleep in the 40-inch cages that were stacked on top of each other and rigged with alarms. We're not sure what type of therapy that would be, but if these allegations are true it would be illegal and called child abuse.

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If a real psychiatrist made this recommendation, this individual should be located and have all medical licenses revoked - at the very least.

So far, though, the parents have not been charged with any crime and there were no physical signs of abuse or malnourishment.

Thankfully, these children have been placed in foster homes for now and will hopefully have the chance to see what a normal life would be.

The larger questions remain: How did this family get custody of these children in the first place and why did no one see these highly questionable living conditions sooner?

The children were not adopted through the Huron County system though the family has lived there for 10 years. Most were adopted through other Ohio counties, and two through other states. The state is trying to determine how the adoption process got to this point.

We urge the Department of Jobs and Family Services to use every resource available to not only determine how these children were able to live like this so long unsupervised but also to thoroughly analyze the state's system to make there are not others like them.

This is a case in which corners should never be cut.

Even if one child "slips through the cracks" of our state's system then we as citizens and as human beings have failed.