COMPELLS A FATHER TO KILL HIS DAUGHTER AT SCHOOL?
ZERO PLUS 1235 DAY--New York, NY, Saturday, January
is more horrible to image than a parent brutally killing his
or her own child. No act of Terrorism in the world is worse.
No suicide bombing in Iraq, no crashing of planes into the World
Trade Center--nothing--absolutely nothing competes with the
senseless, horrific ugliness of a father stabbing his seven-year-old
daughter to death in her Catholic School bathroom.
body stabbed more than a dozen times was found in this
New York school
Graves holds up a picture of his granddaughter Jerica
who was stabbed to death by her father
Jerica Rhodes body was found
Thursday in the boy's bathroom of the Roman Catholic Sacred
Heart of Jesus school in Highland Falls, New York. She was stabbed
more than a dozen times.
At the time of her death,
her classmates were in the adjacent chapel saying morning prayers.
Jerica's father, 27-year-old
Christopher A. Rhodes, was charged with second-degree murder
and is being held in Orange County Jail without bail.
A. Rhodes was charged with the murder of his daughter
There was no motive known
at the time of the arrest. Blood was found on Rhodes clothing
and traces of what police believed to be Jerica's were found
on the father's jacket.
Linwood Rhodes Jr., Jerica's
grandfather, had custody of the girl. She lived with her grandparents
from the age of five months. Her father lived down the street
and walked her to school.
After allegedly killing
his daughter, Christopher Rhodes drove to a hospital in Cornwall,
N.Y. where he was treated for wounds on his hands. He returned
to his parents' house in Highland Falls where he was picked
up by police.
Jerica's grandfather is
a former police chief who runs the Rhodes Funeral Home in nearby
New Windsor. He will handle his daughter's funeral, he said.
Terrorism's roots are not
in the battlefields of Iraq, Iran or North Korea. They exist
beneath our very noses, in the way we raise our children and
shape their belief systems.
who are abused or neglected have greater odds of turning into
some form of Terrorist from being wife beaters to becoming "doormats"
and letting the world tromp on them.
Abused or neglected children have greater odds of becoming
wife-beaters or "doormats" and letting the world
tromp on them
The most severe of these
cases become killers of their own children.
One can only struggle to
imagine what twist of human character at what point in a child's
life set into motion the formation of this child's Beast of
What fertilized its growth?
What allowed it to germinate
into an ugly cancer capable of taking a knife and driving it
into the body of one's own daughter in a bathroom at a Catholic
Those who want to "save
the world" by eliminating Terrorism in foreign lands and
providing freedom and liberty for the oppressed have much to
do at home before going abroad. The ugliness of human nature
unbridled is much more frightening than any cell of Osama bin
Laden, for it is the enemy within rather than the one without
that should startle and sober any society into action.
The killing of Jerica is
not an anomaly of violence by parents against their children
in this nation.
and molestation of one's own child ranks but a notch below
the physical killing of them
Sexual abuse and molestation
of one's own child ranks but a notch below the physical killing
of them, for emotionally the child is "killed" by
the "touch" of a parent or guardian. His or her life
becomes a pretzel, a twisted mass of shames and guilts that
compel behaviors abhorrent to anyone who considers the innocence
of a child the most precious of all human treasures.
Child neglect runs a close
second to physical abuse.
The most elegant appearing
of parents with scads of money and endless power and prestige
may end up buying a child so many gifts to replace any "quality
time" that the child soon begins to believe he or she is
just another trophy on the shelf, a "thing" rather
than a person. The killers of Columbine were the children of
successful attorneys who provided their children "everything"
yet nothing. They let the Beast of Terror breed in their child,
ignoring all the signs that a child could be starving for love
In his or her own way, the
neglectful parents stabs his or her children just as Jerica
Rhodes' father did in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic
school boy's bathroom at 8:10a.m. Thursday morning.
Not all wounds bleed outwardly.
The pain of a child is often
stuffed under thick, chitenous calluses that grow upon the soul
in heaps creating a defense against the pain and anguish of
a world that cares little about the "person" inside
rips apart the security of a child and divides the child's
America's divorce rate of
fifty-percent is one of the great acts of Terrorism in our nation,
for it rips apart the security of a child and divide's the child's
love. It also signals to the child that marriage is an institution
of pain and suffering, and that children are not important for
if they were the parents would not find reasons to hate one
another so much they couldn't live together.
Divorce is a suicide bomb
that explodes in a child's face, ignited by both parents at
the child's expense. It is an act of great "Quiet Terror."
Then there are the million
or so abortions each year, where children in the formulative
stages are killed for a wide range of reasons, but all basicly
ending up at the same destination--"because I don't want
area millions of abortions each year: parents killing
Stabbing Jerica when she
is seven versus scooping her out of the womb when she was weeks
old in gestation is simply a matter of timing. The killing of
children by parents is still the killing of children by parents,
no matter how desperately societies or individuals try to sanction
the "right" to do it.
In examining President Bush's
inaugural speech and his call to action to fight Terrorism around
the world, I found the speech hollow in reference to the great
acts of Terrorism within our own land that result in the shaping
of a parent who stabs his or her daughter a dozen or more times
in her school toilet.
Christopher Rhodes was shaped
into a Beast of Terror by some force. That force lurks within
us all. It is the "inherent" evil or bad or ugly part
of our chemistry that may have its footprints in such deep genetic
footprints that we cannot fathom such primordial chemistry could
be part of such an "advanced" species.
Male lions fighting over
dominance of a pride then devouring the young, are examples
in nature of parents eating and/or killing their young
Today, in nature, there
are countless examples of parents eating or killing their young
for a wide range of reasons. When a group of new male lions
take over a pride they immediately kill all the cubs so that
their line and not some previous lineage will prevail.
Nature's consumption of
its young is not headline news, but the idea that somewhere
in the evolution of human nature there is a cold cell that numbs
some of us to acts of heinous violence against our own kind
shouldn't shock anyone.
Killing is part of nature's
Violence is too.
What is not part of nature's
way is allowing destructive genes to prosper. Those genes which
threaten the security of the species must be altered or, by
default, the species will die out.
So it is with the message
from Jerica Rhodes.
Her death once more reminds
us all that we must not become Complacent to the violence and
pain we can and do create in those we love or should love the
From the wealthiest of us
who abuse his or her children or are too busy to interact with
the child emotionally and honestly, to the father who takes
his daughter to school then repeatedly stabs her in the bathroom--much
work is yet to be done in our parenting arena.
That's why becoming a Parent
of Vigilance is a proactive decision to improve one's parenting,
grand parenting and overall human evolutionary skills.
of Vigilance is to teach keeping an eye on one's self
as well as on everyone else
A Parent of Vigilance by
the name alone suggests that the duty of Vigilance is to keep
an eye on one's self as well as everyone else. It implies one
must have his or her self in check and control before venturing
out on the front lines to protect everyone else.
I am convinced that if the
Rhodes' family members were all practicing Parents of Vigilance,
the odds their son would take a knife and stab their granddaughter
to death would be slim and far between.
While I cannot prove this
to be true, I can say that the absence of Vigilance--Complacency--leaves
the door open for the evolution of the Beast of Terror in any
Equally so, the presence
of the Pledge of Vigilance deters the Beast, for the Beast would
rather take the "easy ones" than the "hard ones."
for Jerica outside the Highland Falls school
near West Point
So as you cringe and shudder
thinking about Christopher Rhodes stabbing his daughter to death
in the Sacred Heart of Jesus school bathroom, pause and look
at yourself in the mirror. Ask yourself if your tongue might
stab your children, or the back of your hand might, or the irritation
in your voice at your children for bothering you while you are
watching television, or the neglect you might give your child
in the face of someone abusing them.
No action is worse.
Action is the best.
Take action. Fight the Beast
of Terror. Stunt his growth.
Take the knife from his
hand and the possibility that he can stab your children physically,
emotionally and spiritually.
Take the Pledge of Vigilance.
Do it for Jerica Rhodes.
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