Take your typical emotion. Now tie in a child. Many times that emotion multiplies when a child is involved. Take the issue of involuntary institutionalization due to mental illness. Imagine someone who suffers from an illness which leads them to go after people with a knife in anger. There is little question that this person needs to be put away, as a matter of public safety. Now imagine that this person is ten years old. Is the decision any harder? There was a story on NPR about a residential program out west which treats children with chronic mental illness. It treats those kids who previously fell between the cracks, the ‘tweeners who were not sick enough for long term, inpatient treatment in a mental hospital, but who were too much of a danger to others not to receive some treatment. The story talked about the previous “band aide” approach; intermittent hospitalizations to deal with crises as they arise. It featured the ten year old child who became a danger to his family.

Picture the child placed in such a program. Imagine a therapist asking the child, “If you could ask your mommy any question right now, what would you ask her?” Imagine this child’s reply, spoken in a vulnerable tone: “Mommy, why did you put me in here?”

That crunching sound you hear is my heart breaking.