I am not a medical student, nor do I come from a family of doctors. More to the point, I have a liberal-arts degree (and no, I do not repeatedly ask, “Do you want fries with that?”). But I am an average American in the famous 18-to-49 age group who has been known to watch ER. Has no one else seen this program? Has no one in the entire department of Alexandria’s Child Protective Services seen this program? The minute I saw the cover page (“Sticks and Bones,” 2/8), I thought, Oh, I bet she was born with that brittle-bone disease. Poor thing. ER did a whole episode on the disease. There is also a movie called Unbreakable with two fairly well-known actors, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis. It’s about a man who was born with the disease. This disease does exist. But naturally, when a child shows up with broken bones and no other signs, everyone points to child abuse.

I probably would have gone the same path in the investigation, given the circumstances. But I’m appalled that staff at the agency blew Alice Velasquez off as making up diseases in order to get her child (rightfully) back. They did not find her worthy of listening to because of their ignorance. Children who are being abused have many other signs: They have visible pain. They are bruised, scratched, scraped, scared, and shy. They don’t just appear with broken bones and no other signs. I have broken a bone. There is a heck of a lot of bruising and swelling and pain involved with that process. There didn’t seem to be any of that associated with this case.

This investigation was started because of a caring mother’s insistence. If she had not been worried about the health and well-being of her child, and insisted that a doctor take an X-ray to check for symptoms of spinal disorders, this whole mess wouldn’t have even started. How, then, can an agency do a 360-degree turn and point the finger at an obviously caring mother?

Capitol Hill

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