Death raises painful questions

Death raises painful questions

Certainly the death of Teddy Foltz, the 14-year-old Struthers boy who died a week ago in St. Elizabeth Health Center demands justice. But it cries out for more.

Evidence indicates that the boy was inadequately protected by his mother and brutalized by her boyfriend in a horror story that was witnessed in vignettes by neighbors, teachers, police, Children Services boards and family members. The full scope of what happened to Teddy is only being pieced together after his death.

It is quite possible that none of the entities that society entrusts to protect vulnerable children failed, but the fact remains that he died.

Was home schooling a ruse?

It is alarming to learn that after teachers in Struthers reported the possibility of abuse — as they are required to do — and the Mahoning County Children Services Board investigated, Teddy’s mother responded by pulling him out of class, saying she would home school him.

Ohio law gives great deference to parents who wish to home school their children, but no parent should be able to use home schooling as a way to remove an abused child from society’s radar screen.

Prosecutors will be concentrating on bringing to justice those responsible for any abuse that led to Teddy Foltz’s death. But this case may present a textbook example for a full coroner’s inquest — a rarity in Ohio — to answer a larger question. How did the social network fail Teddy? That inquiry could prove vitally important to children still in danger of injury or death at the hands of their abusers.

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