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Mother Receives Probation for 12-Year-Old Son's Suicide

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Maddy McCall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 07:24 AM
Original message
Mother Receives Probation for 12-Year-Old Son's Suicide
MERIDEN, Conn. (AP) Judith Scruggs has lost her two jobs, her home and her privacy after being convicted of creating a home environment that prosecutors say contributed her 12-year-old son's decision to kill himself. But she will not serve time in jail.

Scruggs, 53, was given a suspended sentence and five years' probation Friday in Meriden Superior Court. She must also undergo counseling and perform 100 hours of community service.

J. Daniel Scruggs hanged himself in his bedroom closet on Jan. 2, 2002.

snip/

Witnesses for prosecutors described a home where there was barely room to move because of clothes, boxes, papers and debris covering the floor. A sink held dirty dishes, spills and stains. The air was foul. The bathroom floor and tub were covered with clothes; the fixtures soiled.

Scruggs' lawyers disputed claims that her messy house played a role in J. Daniel's death, blaming it instead on violent bullying at school. In Connecticut, the case inspired a new state law requiring schools to report bullies to authorities, and many school districts revamped bullying policies.


More at: http://www.boston.com/dailynews/135/region/Mother_recei...
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Tuttle Donating Member (919 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 07:36 AM
Response to Original message
1. Very sad happenstance...
As a Connecticut resident, I found it the irony of anti-bullying legislation with a backdrop of beating the drum to invade Iraq very bizarre!

Scruggs lost a son to suicide, not bad housekeeping!

Tut-tut
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Kinkistyle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 08:10 AM
Response to Original message
2. Dirty house causes suicide?
I'm sorry if I find that just a tad hard to believe. Apparently Ms. Scruggs was working two jobs, so I am guessing she had little time or money to be able to maintain a "clean and happy" home. But there's obviously a larger factor for the boy's suicide, and while living in a hovel might contribute to a glum mood, I seriously doubt it would make one want to kill themselves.

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Skittles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
15. it sounds like she might have been one of those hoarders
unable to keep a decent home.
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BiggJawn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 08:12 AM
Response to Original message
3. Why didn't my daughter kill herself?
I mean I'm no fucking Martha Stewart, either.

Anyone else notice a rise in this "But we gotta punish SOMEBODY!" culture in this country? Parents are investigated to the point of indictment for crib death, I know of one lawsuit resulting from a traffic accident that pretty much was premised on "if your daughter hadn't had that party on a rainy night, my son wouldn't have been driving on that road and wrecked", and now this.

People can't grok on the fact that "Shit Happens".
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progressivebydesign Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:41 PM
Response to Reply #3
20. I don't think anyone gets it..
..it's not about having a "Martha Stewart" home. It's about living in a foul, inhuman, squalor.. it's about having to go to school in filthy, reeking clothes. It's about a kid trying to maintain some fucking decency as he wakes up every morning in a garbage dump. It's not that the woman didn't dust.. The house was a pig sty, to the point of making me question her mental health... seriously.
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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 08:29 AM
Response to Original message
4. I saw her on Montel Williams
and there is a bit more to this story. She wasn't charged with anything until after she decided to sue the school district for not doing anything about the bullying. That poor kid's life was Hell on earth and the school's solution is to keep him home. For shame.
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Tuttle Donating Member (919 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. She still has a civil suit pending
against the city of Meridan and the school system.

Tut-tut
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pop goes the weasel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 11:16 AM
Response to Original message
5. more proof
that being poor is considered criminal behavior in this country.
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LDS Jock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 11:22 AM
Response to Original message
6. this reminds me of another case
the temporarily insane from Robitussin defense used in Michigan earlier this year. OK, the cases don't really have anything in common, but when you hear or read about them, you can't believe its really true.

http://www.detnews.com/2004/metro/0402/15/metro-63804.h...
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JNelson6563 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 12:49 PM
Response to Original message
8. The condition of a home says a lot
about a person as a parent. I'm not talking Martha Stewart type perfection in a home, hell I'd fail miserably if that were the case. But as a mother who has been horribly stretched for both time and money I managed to find the time to go and brow-beat the hell out of a principal when there was bullying and physical abuse toward my daughter. And my home, while certainly not perfect, would never come close to being considered "squalor".

Raising a child in squalor and just hoping his troubles will go away or that a school system will take steps on their own accord is unacceptable. Sorry.

Let me tell you that if that principal had not addressed those issues I went to talk to him about (he was mopping his brow as he escorted me out after our "chat") I'd have continued taking steps up to and including going to pay visits to the parents of the tormentors.

When it comes to my kids issues like time and money are secondary, no matter how pressing. Mess with a child of mine you will find yourself face to face with a mother bear.

I guess some aren't as passionate about protecting their young as others.

Now I welcome flames from those who believe nothing can ever be the parents' fault....

Julie
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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. This was a rather one sided artilce
admittedly the Montel show I watched was one sided the other way. Let's just say the facts presented in that article are very much in dispute both as to the efforts this lady made in regards to the school and the condition of the home. In short, barring you having some personal knowledge of the story it would have at least behooved you to read my earlier post before posting yours.
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JNelson6563 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. Ass-u-me
You assume I didn't read your post about the Montel show. I did. It did not refute my points so I do not understand your confrontational tone. Perhaps more detail on the Montel segment might help me to know more of what you know as I didn't see the show.

Julie
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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. maybe the fact that this supposedly deplorable home
Edited on Sat May-15-04 05:31 PM by dsc
didn't merit any mention or charge until after she filed suit. If the home was so bad, why wait until after she files suit.
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pop goes the weasel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 10:32 PM
Response to Reply #8
21. Nice that you can
Not everyone is capable of fighting. Since you are so good at it, how about you set up a parent advocacy organization to challenge schools on behalf of parents who don't have the personality, the know-how, or the health to do it themselves.

I'm serious. Do it.
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JNelson6563 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-16-04 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. good advice
However my hands are a bit full already. I am managing a State House campaign, working with my local party and raising my own family at this time.

My plate over-floweth. How about you?

Julie
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pop goes the weasel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-16-04 01:32 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. I suggested you for a reason
You obviously have the political savvy to be able to fight a bureaucracy and win. I don't. My sad little attempt to do so ended up with my child dropping out of school because the district dragged its feet on accomodating her disability. There was no one to be my advocate, to help me with the process. There are plenty of people who want to blame the parents, though. It sure would be nice if, instead of heaping blame on already beleagured parents, those people offered assistance. Not everyone is like you, not everyone has your peculiar assortment of traits and skills. Since you have the traits and skills that are needed, and you have an interest in parents successfully fighting school bureaucracies, I though you might be amenable to helping. At least that's something you can consider doing if you lose the election.
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roach23 Donating Member (42 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 04:15 PM
Response to Original message
10. makes me angry
where's the father in all of this? It says she wasn't getting child support. Maybe if he would pay, she wouldn't have to be working two jobs. Why is he not the one who is blamed? He should be charged also, if she is.
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progressivebydesign Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #10
19. It's not that she didn't have time to do housework..
.. doesn't anyone get this? They lived in squalor! She had time to provide a decent environment for this kid. She was able to get her shit together to sue the school.. but couldn't get the filth off the floors. It's not the money.. she has mental issues. Her child was old enough to help with the housekeeping, it's not about that. She is ill, obviously.
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PeaceProgProsp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 04:28 PM
Response to Original message
11. How about that husband who left the loaded gun in suicdal wife's drawer?
Offers and interesting comparison.
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AlienGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:25 PM
Response to Original message
13. Depression?
I have to wonder whether the mother herself is mentally ill. If she had severe Major Depression, she may not have had the energy to keep up with housework. Since depression is hereditary, both mother and child may have had it--leading to a medical cause of both the deplorable living conditions and the suicide.

Tucker
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SharonAnn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:31 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. Yes, my take exactly. Serious depressioin is insidious.
The person who has it doesn't always realize it.
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Skittles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #13
18. I agree, Tucker
it's hard to keep up anything when you are depressed.
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progressivebydesign Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 05:35 PM
Response to Original message
17. The point was that he was bullied because of his living situation.
After being here on DU since almost the beginning, I am still amazed at the knee-jerk reactions to every story like this. Schools are bad. Cops are bad. Drugs are good... etc. Doesn't matter what the story involves, the reactions are always so swift.. Ooh.. single mom.. must be a saint working two jobs.

The point is, the living conditions of that house were not just messy. It was not an indictment of a poor overworked single mom who didn't have time to make her house Martha Stewart perfect. The point IS that her son lived in SQUALOR.. he smelled, the house smelled, and he was attacked regularly at school because of it. If a kid leaves home every day, and that home reeks, the clothes are filthy, etc.. do you think the kids would make him homecoming king? His self esteem, from living in that type of environment, that hell she created added to the bullying, would drive many kids to suicide. She was charged because she neglected her son.. The fact that she could get her shit together enough to file a lawsuit is just sad... she couldn't provide a humane living environment for her child, but she sure found time to pursue a lawsuit. I have no pity for this woman. Sorry this child never had a relative to live with..
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Bozvotros Donating Member (394 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-16-04 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #17
23. Agree but with qualification
A few photos of the home might clear up the matter of the home's actual condition. But as a therapist I've worked with many adults who grew up in homes that sound much like the one described. And at one time I did home assessments for Voc Rehab where I saw homes that made me feel crazy just walking into them. This goes way beyond hoarders who are often heavily cluttered but still relatively clean. To have to live in this kind of home, as this child allegedly did, could push anyone over the edge.

Adults who grew up and survived this upbringing are often still filled with shame and self hatred for having had to live like this and they describe often continuous vicious teasing at school. In most cases the parent or parents in such homes, were massively depressed or bipolar, sometimes chemically dependent too and usually untreated due to lack of insurance. It is the very essence of helplessness and hopelessness to be dependent on a crazy parent who can't provide anything remotely resembling consistency, order and protection.

In this case, two jobs doesn't guarantee insurance or a living wage or even that you are working more than part time. So many things can be factored in as part of this boy's suicide and my hunch is that the judge knew that and is using probation to force this poor women into getting the help she needs.

The fact that she filed a suit means only that she found an attorney willing to take her case. Not a time consuming or difficult thing to do these days. It is probably best to withhold judgement in these matters and try to do something to correct or prevent these horrors that are happening all over our country.

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