Until yesterday I haven’t said a word about Rebecca Riley, because it’s my pattern to clam up when something makes me this angry. Not the best pattern for a blogger, but you know how it goes, when I can I will.
Rebecca’s sad, sordid story has gotten major traction in the blogosphere, I read what people are taking away from this tragedy and most of it leaves me frustrated. Someone’s gotta shoot that discourse in the head, put it out of its misery.
The controversy centers around this purported “bipolar child” diagnosis, and concerns about treating a toddler with anti-psychotics. We all agree this is fucked up, full stop. It’s wrong, and it’s okay to say it.
Is that all there is to talk about in this case? The proper age to treat a child with behavioral problems for bi-polar? How about 11, does eleven work, is that a good age? No? Thirteen, fifteen, how about never? Go on, have at it, put your heads together and come up with the exact appropriate age to start a kid with emotional problems on anti-psychotics, then pick up your critical marbles and go home, problem solved. Ugh.
What else ya got?
A chronology of involvement by the state Department of Social Services with the family of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley:
December 2002: DSS receives a complaint that the Rileys’ oldest child had been neglected while the family was living in Springfield. DSS substantiates the complaint and opens a file on the family.
June 2005: DSS investigates allegations that Michael Riley had sexually abused Carolyn Riley’s 13-year-old daughter from another relationship and refers case to Norfolk district attorney’s office. DSS also investigates whether Carolyn Riley had neglected the couple’s three children.
June 2006: The oldest child, an 11-year-old boy, is taken to the hospital by ambulance. DSS is assured by doctors and neurologists that he was not abused or neglected.
June 2006: A therapist working with Rebecca and her 6-year-old sister files a complaint with DSS after Rebecca’s 6-year-old sister said during a home visit that Michael Riley had hit her. DSS had already investigated and did not substantiate the report.
July 2006: The therapist files a second complaint with DSS, saying that during another home visit that Carolyn Riley appeared drugged and pointed out a puddle of urine where Rebecca had wet the rug while napping. DSS says doctors treating the Riley family say the mother and children are receiving appropriate medication.
October 2006: DSS investigates and substantiates reports from relatives that Michael Riley grabbed his son by the neck and slammed his head against a car window. Carolyn Riley seeks a restraining order.
November 2006: DSS meets in the agency’s Weymouth office with Carolyn Riley, who says she plans to move to Hull and assures them the restraining order against her husband is still active.
Dec. 13, 2006: Rebecca Riley is found dead on her parents’ bedroom floor. An autopsy later indicates she was poisoned by prescription medicine. DSS removes her siblings and places them in foster care. The agency also begins taking steps to seek a second medical opinion on the treatment and diagnosis of Rebecca Riley and her two siblings.