Sigh. File this one under “cruel and unusual punishment.” And lazy, lazy parenting. Usually, it’s like pulling teeth to get your kid to go to the dentist. In the case of Francisco Torres, it was quite the opposite. His son started complaining of a painful, bleeding toothache toothache last summer. For six months, the Philadelphia-area father refused to take the boy for a check-up, claiming that he didn’t have transportation to get to the office or insurance to pay for the exam once they got there. So he let the child suffer.
Anybody who’s ever been in any kind of dental pain can understand what happened next: the 14-year-old was so desperate for relief from his agony, he yanked out the two offending teeth. At home. With pliers. Himself. Man, that’s gangsta.
Now his dad is in hot water with child protective services, the boy is short two molars, and he underwent emergency surgery in February to pull out shards of tooth enamel that were left behind in his homegrown, do-it-yourself extraction.
When stuff like this happens — and stuff like this happens all the ever lovin’ time — you’ve got to wonder why some people even have and keep children in the first place. I mean, if you’re not going to do the basics like take them to the doctor or dentist, particularly after a kid tells you that something is hurting them and they’re in physical pain, then it’s pretty safe to say you’re not smothering them with hugs and kisses or sitting front and center at the monthly PTA meetings, either. Poor boy. I feel sorry for him for more reasons than one.
But I don’t feel sorry for his dad who, though innocent until proven guilty, is charged with child endangerment, and turned himself into police on Tuesday. (Yeah, yeah, yeah ... due process and all that good stuff.) To add insult to injury — literally — Big Dummy had a valid card from Access, the public assistance program in Pennsylvania that provides state-issued health care to low-income residents. That includes, not shockingly, emergency trips to the dentist. And regular visits, too.
As for the toothless teen, he’s now in foster care, which I’m not sure is any better than being under the tyranny of his father. I hear horror stories all the time about being in “the system,” so whenever a kid is removed from one situation and put there as an alternative, I’m always hoping some family member or close friend or concerned neighbor will come and scoop them up and take them right back out.
His dad is home on bail, but here’s to hoping some time in the clink gave him some time to think — and that Bubba and Big Shirley didn’t knock his own teeth down his throat for being unnecessarily mean to his boy. You know folks in the pokey don’t take too kindly to people who get locked up for picking on innocent kids. Not that I know from experience or anything. I’m just sayin’ ...
Should Torres have been charged with child endangerment or is this one of those cases that didn't really need intervention from the law?
Image via cw3283/Flickr