If there has been one decided focus that the Flint water crisis has taken, it’s the overwhelming desire to find someone to blame for what happened. And Governor Snyder seems to be the guy at the top of the bonfire pile. But whether or not you agree with the nationwide drive to point the finger of blame at the governor, one has to admit that people have made some very interesting arguments for both sides of the battle.
Dr. Irwin Redlener is the president and co-founder of the Children’s Health Fund, which is a national non profit organization that supports health care for disadvantaged children across the U.S. And he is also the man accusing the Governor of state sponsored child abuse.
According to Redlener, if the Governor as a parent had done to his own children what he did to the children of Flint, he would be charged with second degree child abuse. How is that, you wonder? According to the Michigan penal code, second degree child abuse is defined as “knowingly or intentionally commits an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child.”
Knowing that the water is poisoned with lead, and that multiple other children in Flint have been diagnosed with alarmingly elevated levels of lead in their blood, wouldn’t a caring parent have refused to bathe their children in Flint’s water? Wouldn’t they have refused to allow their children to drink the water? This is Redlener’s argument. And it is a thought provoking one.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children may include: developmental delays, learning difficulties, loss of appetite, weight loss, irritability, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, hearing loss, sluggishness and fatigue.
The fact that toys are recalled if they are discovered to have even trace amounts of lead in them is telling. The fact that all interior and exterior paint cans come with a warning about the damaging effects of lead on the lungs, for those who are planning to scrape and then paint in older homes is another point to consider. SO if we as a society have gone to such great lengths to ensure that our children are not exposed to lead, if at all possible, what are we to make of this situation?
It is reasonable to assume that a parent who elected to continue giving their child this water would be up against felony charges for abuse. But in this case, and with this particular comparison, could the defense claim that the “parent” in question had no other choice, or perhaps didn’t know the extend of the danger? It remain to be seen how this plays out, and whether or not there are any charges that will follow as a result.