A very interesting subject is currently on the tongues of many across the country, and I for one am thrilled that this subject has nothing at all to do with the upcoming election! Lol But seriously, the issue of the police chief in Ohio who posted pictures of two adults who had overdosed on drugs and all while a 4 year old boy sat in the back seat observing, has many upset. My concern about all of this is that I am finding that most of the comments and response stories out there, are more focused on whether or not this was an act of “shaming”. I wrote a letter to the editor based on how this situation left me FEELING. I now want to know what it makes you feel, read my letter google NPR interview with police chief in Ohio regarding overdose pictures, I am sure you will find the link. When you look at these pictures, where is your focus and how does what you are focused on make you feel? Don’t hold back…I truly want to know what you feel, not think…but feel.
Yesterday, while driving home to Naperville from Michigan, I experienced an interview on npr radio’sALL THINGS CONSIDERED , that prompts me to write this letter. The interview was with the Police Chief of East Liverpool Ohio (John Lane), and was centered on the recent posting of graphic photos of an overdosed couple and their 4 year old car-mate who sat quietly in the backseat. During the interview Chief Lane was asked if these photos were intended as some form of “shaming”, shaming towards the guardians of the child, or shaming of the public for not doing more. Chief Lane responded that he did not feel that this was about “shaming” at all, inasmuch as it was/is about awareness.
There has been much talk in various articles since these photos have gone viral, that have taken up the shaming cross and in my opinion, lost the true spirit of the story and what I personally believe was Chief Lanes’ motives when the decision was made to post the pics. As a survivor of the foster care system, and also as a motivational speaker who’s only source of continual healing from the scars of foster care, comes from addressing the need for better protection of all children…I have no choice but to support what Chief Lane has done, and applaud his courage for printing who the true face of addiction hurts the most, our children! If there is any shaming to be done, it should be done by each of us individually, and that is what I experienced in my vehicle while listening to this story. It was because I am not only a survivor of the foster care system, but also because I was once addicted myself, perhaps not to the exact drug that the stars of this particular show were, but addicted nonetheless, and it nearly ruined not only my life, but the lives of everyone I touched. Chief Lane’s call to action was soul stirring, and forced me to immediately reach within my spirit to seek what more I could do to assist in bringing the message of how devastating drug addictions are, and who the true victims in many of these situations are; the children.
In this case, it was truly a blessing that the 4 year old was taken in by a family member, for in most instances this is not the outcome. The foster care system in our country is flooded each and every year with thousands upon thousands of innocent children who in most cases had no say in how they got there. These same children could very well find themselves one day “aging out” of one system, only to be led directly into one or more of the various other “systems” that await the misguided, the mismanaged, and the misplaced children of our country.
Again, as one of the children who did make it out of the foster system alive, but is still piecing his life back together after all these years; I say shame on all of us, for even allowingthis to be possible.
We should all ask ourselves what part we can play in turning this epidemic around, we should all be aware that addiction is constantly on the campaign trail, seeking supporters of all types. None of us should forget the face of the 4 year old with the dinosaur shirt on within those “un-blurred” photos, for one day that face could very well turn into the face of someone you love.
Loren Michaels Harris