As babies we are born with a certain innocence that must be protected by our parents. But what happens when the parent doesn’t protect that virtue, a child’s innocence? Why must a child pay for the actions of an adult? Why do they misuse the trust a child has in them? How dare you take their innocence away! When 5-year-old Shaniya Davis of North Carolina went missing, suspicion turned to a man described as her mother’s boyfriend. As he was let go, police targeted another man spotted on hotel surveillance footage holding the child.
Then, authorities arrested the girl’s mother and accused her of offering her daughter for prostitution. Searchers found Shaniya dumped in the woods 30 miles from her hometown in Fayetteville, N.C. Hundreds of volunteers hoping to find her alive left the site of the search dejected, unable to bring Shaniya home to an emotional father.
Shaniya’s mother, 25-year-old Antoinette Davis, appeared in court calm and quiet as if nothing had happened. Police charged Davis with human trafficking and felony child abuse, saying Shaniya was offered for prostitution.
Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, was charged with kidnapping after investigators said surveillance footage from a Sanford hotel showed him carrying Shaniya. McNeill has the audacity to plead not guilty to the charges.
What kind of world are we living in?
Davis struggled financially over the years, but she recently got a job and her own place, so Lockhart said he decided to give her a chance with their daughter. Now Lockhart has to live with the fact that his decision led to the brutal murder of his 5-year-old daughter.
The sad twist to this story is that little Shaniya has to leave behind her a father who cherished her dearly. Bradley Lockhart, the girl’s father, said he raised his daughter for several years, but last month decided to let her stay with her mother. He pleaded for her safe return.
No child should ever have to go through this.
My son means the world to his father and me, and we could never dream of this happening to him. But, in reality, these types of things happen, and it is not fair to any child. How do we stop the madness?
Our next challenge is not world peace, conquering outer space, feeding the world or global warming. The next challenge that we face today is to preserve something that we all are born with and which is re-introduced into the world each time a child passes the threshold from eternity into time and space.
That trait so cherished in our children is called innocence, and it is our moral responsibility to influence our society to protect that innocence.
Do your part, America. Take a stand.
Ashley B. Leichmon is a senior mass communication major from Crossett, Ark.