Many years ago, I was sitting in a library when a girl about 8 years old began to describe how her father, who she said was a police officer, beat her. I gentle prodded her to give me details around her name and address, but she could only give me her first name and the elementary school she attended. She then changed the subject as the woman she was with called for her, and they left.
I wrote down all the details I learned, and I sat for minute wondering what the next step was. The young girl had said that because her father was a police officer, the police wouldn’t help. (I’m not accusing the police of this. I’m merely repeating her words.) I didn’t want to confront the woman with her because I didn’t know if I could get the little girl immediate help. I worried that, if I spoke to the woman, the little girl could get beaten for telling me and maybe would never get or take another chance to tell someone.
I decided to call Child Protective Services and give them all the information thinking: How many girls with this name go to this particular elementary school and have police officer dads? I was told that I did not have enough information for CPS to investigate. I was given no alternatives.
I never ran into the little girl again.
I think about her often even though the school does not exist anymore. I pray for her even though I can only recall her face and not her name.
I ask myself what I could have done different.
I’m not even sure why I’m posting this story here. Perhaps, I want to be told what I should have done so I can get it right next time. Perhaps, I want to be told I did the right thing already. Perhaps, someone, who knows her today and is wondering if something is going on at home, will read this and ask.
Many years ago, I was sitting in a library trying to do the next right thing and thinking it was enough. It was not. And I hate having forgotten her name.