The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week that ten children were found in the care of Linda Ann Weston who is accused of locking up four mentally disabled people in a dark cellar in North Philadelphia. Mr. Ramsey the police commissioner of Philadelphia, told CNN that the 10 children, aged from two to 19, have also been taken into protective care. They included the niece of the prime suspect Linda Weston. She was reported missing in 2009.
The six children and four teens were taken into protective care in front of the Philadelphia house. Police are still working to identify all of them. Some may have been kidnapped. The children all bore signs of physical abuse and were extremely malnourished. Police spokeswoman Jillian Russell said they were being examined in the hospital.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey continued to say “This is a very sad story. It makes no sense. When you look at the kids, the psychological trauma is pretty apparent. It’s some of the worst things I’ve ever experienced.”
“They are still interviewing the children to determine whose they are and where they came from,” said Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia district attorney’s office.
Two of the children may have been born to the woman held in the basement. “We don’t know for sure. We’ll have to do DNA testing in order to find out. Apparently they were taken from her at a very, very young age,” Mr Ramsey told CNN. (www.phillynews.com)
There are so many unanswered questions about this convoluted horrific story. How did these children come to be cared for by Linda Ann Weston? Did she kidnap the children? Who are their parents? What did Weston do to them? These questions will be answered over time. What is most important now is to decide what these innocent children will need going forward.
This is the most horrifying case of abuse I have ever heard of. The road back to any kind of “normal” functioning for these children will be a long one. We have no idea if these children have any language, cognitive, social or emotional skills. My guess from years of working with abused and neglected children is that they lived in complete fear, never knowing what would be happening to them next. They had no concept of a healthy relationship. With this in mind, treatment will have to begin with the basic skills of life.
All of the ten children found in the care of Linda Ann Weston, will need medical, behavioral and psychological evaluations. They will need to be placed either with stable biological family members or in a therapeutic foster or group home. Potential caregivers, whether biological or not, will need intensive training on childhood trauma and abuse. Family therapy should also be a requirement from the state.
The children will also need extensive therapy. This may include learning how to regulate biological needs that we take for granted such as drinking, eating, using a bathroom and language skills. Mental health therapy should include attachment bonding therapy, learning good and bad touch, art/play therapy and self-regulation of thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
In the end, these children will need time to heal. We can only hope that with the proper care from invested adults and agencies that these children will be able to live out their lives without remembering every day the horror that was inflicted upon them by cruel individuals .