Editorial: When not to mind your own business

  • Jocarl Bureau sits at the defense table at Merrimack County Superior Court on March 23. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

It is a standard news story, an incremental step along the winding path from crime to punishment, that ran on Page A3 in Tuesday’s Monitor.

Reporter Alyssa Dandrea writes: “A grand jury has indicted a father accused of killing his 3-year-old daughter last year in Concord. Jocarl Bureau, 23, is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Jayleah Bureau on March 15, 2016.” Jayleah died of massive internal bleeding, investigators say. Prosecutors say the abuse had been going on for months.

The story’s eighth paragraph reads: “Prosecutors say that, after multiple people had asked her about the marks and cuts on her face, legs, stomach and chest, Jayleah told other family members and friends that ‘Daddy’ was the one who gave her bruises.”

That’s the thing about standard news stories: No matter how many of them you read, or how many times you read them, they can still break your heart. A little girl who never got to grow up is gone. Nothing will change that, but there will be other Jayleahs. How can they be saved?

Under New Hampshire state law, anybody who suspects that a child has been abused or neglected is required to report it. You should call the Division for Children, Youth and Families Central Intake Unit at 1-800-894-5533, where someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All reports are confidential and can be anonymous.

There’s something here we desperately need you to understand, so we’ll say it again: New Hampshire is a mandatory reporting state, and that means you are required to call DCYF (or the local police in an emergency) if you suspect that a child might be the victim of abuse or neglect – and “suspect” is the proper word. You don’t need proof. It doesn’t matter whether you saw the abuse, or the bruises, with your own eyes. You don’t have to be certain. If you have reason, any reason at all, to believe that a child is being mistreated, you call the number. As a friend, family member, neighbor or citizen, you have an obligation to not mind your own business.

Tragedies are guaranteed in life, but that doesn’t mean all of them are inevitable.