As more of us are becoming vaccinated against COVID-19 and death-tolls are declining, all things considered, life is returning to a semi-normal state. But not before we paid a dear price. As nearly 550,000 American’s have succumbed to the deadly virus, the trail of devastation runs deeper than what meets the eye. There’s much more to the story.
While quarantining obviously didn’t do much to reduce the death toll, if it accomplished anything, it did lots of unanticipated damage behind the scenes. Behind closed and locked front doors. Children have paid an as of yet uncalculated price.
Ava Lerario is a tragic example. Prior to the quarantine, the 9-year olds home life was good. She was daddy’s little princess and her mom would read to her at bedtime. She was the middle child of two brothers and she was always the first one to befriend new kids at school and she would sometimes take her books and stuffed animals to class to share.
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But when neighbors began noticing not seeing her or her brothers playing in their own front yard, as was their almost daily habit, they notified the authorities. Though Ava appeared to be a well-adjusted child, her father Marc Lerario was known far and wide for his short fuse. Her mom, Ashely Belson, was not known far and wide for being a recovering drug addict who had threatened to leave her children’s father on more than one occasion due to his temper.
In fact, in 2019 protective services had visited the home twice amid allegations of Marc Lerario abusing his youngest son. But even with this, Belson stayed. She wouldn’t leave without taking all three of her children and she knew taking Ava would infuriate Lerario to the point of killing her.
As the pandemic worsened, so did the family’s situation. Ashley’s waitressing job provided the only income they had until the restaurant was forced to close. They lived on what little savings they had and the food stamps they applied for. To make matters even worse, the youngest son has autism and requires special attention he was not able to receive.
But Marc was holding up okay. He had quit smoking and drinking and was getting his life back in order until COVID-19 killed his grandmother. When Marc’s depression spiraled out of control, triggering bi-polar reactions, so did Belson’s drug habit. Trapped in the same house, things became toxic.
In the end, Marc Lerario planted a bullet in Ashley Belson’s head, and another one in his daughter Ava’s, and finally, one in his own. The two brothers found the bodies.
Schools and other locations where children gather can serve as safety nets for them. Not only are abusers dissuaded by knowing their inflicted marks and bruises will be noticed, but they are also aware of the penalties for their abusive actions. Since the pandemic, reports of child abuse and neglect have diminished, and this is dangerous for children like Ava. The abuse has gone undetected, and due to confinement situations, as in this case, increased.
Though it may appear odd, with life returning, abuse and neglect reports have increased, and this is kinda sorta a good thing depending on one’s perspective. Teachers and daycare workers are observant and they aren’t afraid to ask a child where their latest “boo-boo” came from. Plus, people are getting out. They’re breathing fresh air, and if needed, getting some much-needed time away from the people they’ve been cooped up with.
So what did hiding in our basements really achieve? The pandemic still got way out of control, people lost their incomes, and more children got abused behind closed doors. Divorce rates haven’t been looked into yet but it’s a solid bet that courthouses are busier than they’ve ever been. And as far as teaching our kids the three r’s, good luck with getting their Nintendo clouded brains up to snuff.
So next time one of these pandemics rolls through, should it ever, do everyone a favor and just say no to quarantining. It’s safer not to.