A Sad, Sad Story

The recent discovery of the identity of the young girl whose body was discovered on a beach at Deer Island almost three months ago has brought closure to one aspect of the tragic circumstances surrounding this matter.

However, the allegation that the child, two-and-a-half-year old Bella Bond, was killed while in the care of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, and that the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) was aware of issues involving Bella’s safety, has caused even more heartache among the millions of us who have been following this story since June 25.

The circumstances that have been revealed of Bella’s life, and death, have only served to heighten our collective sense of anguish and anger. To be sure, there must be determinations of how Bella died and how the DCF utterly failed in its obligation to protect her. In tragic circumstances such as these, there inevitably seems to be a failing on the part of those at the DCF who could have acted in her best interests.

However, none of us should be deluded into thinking that these sorts of situations simply are a matter of misjudgment by some bureaucrat or social worker. The reality is that DCF has been underfunded forever and that case workers are among the most underpaid and overworked persons in any line of work. It is one thing to complain when situations like this arise (and they happen all too often), but quite another to put our money where our mouth is — and in our lifetime, we never have seen DCF (or its predecessors) receive anywhere near the funding that this important agency deserves.

In addition, we as a society also must admit that some persons among us simply are unfit to be parents. If it is true that two previous children of Bella’s mother had been taken away from her, how could it possibly be expected that she would be capable of taking care of a third child? We talk about protecting children, but until we acknowledge that children’s rights must come before parental rights, such tragedies invariably will continue to occur.

We wish to acknowledge the tremendous efforts on the part of the Winthrop and State Police, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, and other law enforcement agencies for the tireless work they performed in solving thus far the criminal aspect of the case.

We also would acknowledge the personal involvement of House Speaker Bob DeLeo, who has called for a top-to-bottom review of DCF in its handling of this case and others like it.

Both Speaker DeLeo and Gov. Charlie Baker were on hand Monday night at Deer Island for a candlelight vigil that was held in Bella’s memory. We trust that they will work together to bring to an end, once and for all and as much as is humanly possible, the shortcomings of our child protective services so that tragedies such as this never will happen again in our state.

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