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If Asher were to see the "missing child" poster of Bryeon Hunter, I'm sure he'd be excited. After all, Bryeon is wearing Lightning McQueen pajamas, and for little boys of a certain age, Lightning McQueen is pretty exciting. When we go shopping, Asher manages to see his favorite characters all over the place, be it the videos themselves, clothes, party favors, or coloring books, and I always need to keep an eye on the cart to make sure that he doesn't lunge out to grab things like this.

When I see the same poster, I see a dear little child, very close in age to my own son, who already looks apprehensive about life.

And it's no wonder that this little child would, considering what his "mother" and her boyfriend put little Bryeon through. In the end (allegedly), they beat him to death, dumped his little body in the Des Plaines river, and then lied about it, claiming "three Hispanic men" made off with him.

The sheriff's office, along with volunteers, searched the river for Bryeon's body, but with storms and a swelling river, didn't find it.

Enter Robert Larson. Now, he doesn't come into the situation as a complete stranger to search and rescue, being as he trains dogs to be able to search out survivors of catastrophes and bodies (when it comes to that), but as a man, and as the father of a young boy himself, he made it his mission to find the body of Bryeon Hunter. Eventually he did, after pouring hundreds of hours of his own time into the effort. He believed, as decent people do, that even if there was nothing more that could be done to help Bryeon in life, his little body still deserved some form of respect - the same sort of respect his caregivers did not give him in life. As he said, too, there is nothing that this little boy could have done to deserve what happened to him. As much as I've dealt with plenty of frustration as a mother, I also know this to be fundamentally true.

Unfortunately, there are far too many children who live through situations like this, and the problem is only getting worse. One of the biggest factors in child abuse is the lack of an intact family, but particularly in cases where there is a mother and a "boyfriend", the chance of child abuse skyrockets. This is no exception.

Of course, this is an inconvenient fact for many, and even in the article linked to there, one of the women interviewed didn't want people to think that she was saying that people ought to "go back to the past" where there are mores about marriage or sexuality or cohabitation. Yet it seems to escape most people that these mores, whether they came about by religious influences or not, were there, in particular, to help protect who were the most helpless in such situations.

And of course, there seem to always be the people who would like to scream "racism" in every situation. One of the most tired arguments is that had the mother had more "support" things wouldn't have turned out this way. One can't be serious in saying that $50 more a month on her EBT card or "greater access to daycare" would have changed much about the kind of monster of a person she turned out to be.

Yet it was a total stranger, a white man, who spent hours and hours trying to give her son some shred of dignity that she could not afford him. As with people who screech about abortion, that "all pro-life people care about is the baby being born, not the mother or the child growing up", this is patently false. I'm sure that if Bryeon's "mother" had shown up on Mr. Larson's doorstep, out of the blue and asked him to take her son because she couldn't, he wouldn't have turned her away; in fact, the hours it might have taken to help find someplace better for this little boy would be much easier than spending so many hours hunting for a body. But it didn't need to be Mr. Larson either; I don't know anyone who would have turned away a child in such desperate need, and I do know of others who actually have been there to take in kids whose parents, for whatever reason, couldn't take care of them for a time. People do love and care about little children, regardless of race, and it's a shame that we live in a day in age where this is a point that needs to be made in the face of all the race-mongering that goes on in our society.

God bless Mr. Larson, who not only had the ability and the opportunity to do good, but also the will to actually do it. I commend him greatly for it. Mr. Larson's compassion for this little boy also reminds me of a woman - Mary Peck - who made it her mission to claim and bury the remains of 4-year-old Jerrell Willis, whose mother and stepfather beat him to death, and then dumped his body under a bridge in Philadelphia. Nobody knew who this little boy was, and so she waited seven years to be able to do this, burying him with a headstone, something that she would eschew herself. She never knew what his name really was, as she died before the case of this child's death was solved. Even as a widow battling cancer, you can't convince me that she wouldn't have helped that little boy in life, had she been given the chance. (Mrs. Peck also reminds me of Joseph of Arimathea, in her "quiet way" who is celebrated by the Orthodox today.)

At the very least, it is faith that gives us some comfort in knowing that these poor children are with God, where their unbearable pain is no more. In the meantime, let us resolve to also do what we can where we can.

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September 2013

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