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Mary Ellen Wilson's Child Abuse Story

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Mary Ellen’s story is heart wrenching, almost making me sick to my stomach. It’s about a small girl born in New York City in 1864 to a Thomas and Frances Wilson. Unfortunately Thomas died at war, and Frances couldn’t take care of her and work. Frances eventually gave her up to a caretaker named Mary Score who she paid to take care of her while Frances worked. Eventually Frances stopped paying and showing up because she became an alcoholic and remarried to another man who was also an alcoholic. Mary had to give her up to the poor house. While there a Thomas McCormack picked her up offering a large amount of money to just adopt her with no paperwork whatsoever. He lied to his wife saying the child was his and that the mother could no longer care for the child. Shortly after taking her home he died of an illness leaving Mary Ellen in the care of his wife Mary McCormack, who was exceptionally cruel to her. One of their former neighbors sent a woman out to check on poor little Mary Ellen and ended up taking her away from her horrible condition. Mary Ellen ended up living a full and content life, she was wed to a widower and had two children and adopted one more.

Mary Ellen’s story taught the entire world that abuse of children could not ever get this far again, and that something needed to be done about it. This was the beginning of a movement to save children from neglect and abuse and to get them the proper care they need to live long and happy lives. No human should ever have to endure the abuse that Mary Ellen went through let alone a child. Child abuse cases were not brought to light enough during this time period and this was the result of that. We read this story with a mix of horror, sadness, and hope for the little child because that’s just how these situations should make you feel, sad and sick. It shows that we can do something about these issues if only we speak up against them. It is our courage and strength to speak up and tell someone that could save a child’s life, and at the very least stop the cycle of abuse that is sure to continue from families like this one. It’s been shown time and time again that most cases of abuse end with the abused becoming the abuser in the future. The only way to stop this is to look at these situations and what we can learn from them.

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As a society we have grown so far from this, but sadly it still goes on today. You hear on the news all the time about abuse stories and how a child was removed from a home. In class we even talked about a story where a couple chained their child out onto the porch with angry dogs attack them and the parents were working for DFC! Even those who are helping other families are able to slip and fall into this cycle of abuse themselves. The lessons we have learned are to not give up a child without proper documentation, paperwork, and contracts, we must study a home before placing a child in it to see if it was fit for child care, and we also need to have better conditions for families of the united states so things like this don’t begin in the first place. Something I feel we as a society have still yet to learn is that we need to speak up! We need to speak out against the brutality of the young and we need to tell someone. We need to see the signs before it it too late and we need to do something about it. We cannot go on with this mentality that it’s “Not our job to teach them how to parent their kid.” As a society it IS our job to do that.

The first place we went wrong with Mary Ellen is the state of poverty she was in we didn’t have nearly enough pay for these men and women to even have an apartment let alone take care of themselves and especially not enough to take care of a child. This would lead to Frances to had to give up her child just to work herself to death. She became an alcoholic just to cope with the depression and her failures as a mother leading her to make poor decisions that ultimately lead to Mary Score to live in poverty to give up the child to a poor house. As a side note poor houses were absolutely disgusting you put the mentally disabled with the homeless and the orphaned all together into one place to hold them. All of this was because the state had no programs to help the poor and it landed Mary Ellen, an innocent child, into the worst place possible. Since then we have programs for the poor to aid them in basic survival needs and we also have higher paying minimum wage to ensure it is enough to live off of.

Another problem we have learned is that we can’t give children off without proper documentation.Thomas signed absolutely no papers, contracts, or even presented any real I.D. All it took to get Mary Ellen into his arms was a wad of cash. No child should be bought or sold like that and no one should ever be put under someone else’s care without proper documentation and contract. Now no one really knew who owned this child and where exactly she came from. It was a mess waiting to happen. We have learned from this in so many ways. It is so hard for many to adopt children nowadays, they have to go through all this paperwork, months and months of adoption processes and it could even take years just to adopt a child.

Lastly, no one even bothered to check on the state of their living facilities or if they previously had any other children. If they did they would have seen the couple had 3 other children who all died under their care. In this day and age no one in their right minds would let a couple who had not one, not two, but three children die while under their care have yet another child. Strangely enough even after bringing the child home Thomas died of an illness himself, it’s a miracle Mary Ellen made it out of that house alive at all. Today we have done so much to keep these things from happening. Now before you adopt a child you go through extensive background checks, they check your home, and they even interview you to see if you are a good fit for the child.

We have come so far from where we previously were but we still aren’t doing enough. How many times have you seen a parent dragging their child around the store, screaming at them, and just flat out not treating them kindly? I can say more times than I’m comfortable with at least and most of the time no one says anything. Saying nothing is our number one problem these days. No one bothers to butt in and make it stop because “I don’t want to tell them how to raise their kid” and that is the completely wrong mentality. We need to speak up, we need to make this stop and we need to see the signs before it’s too late. A child who is being abused will often isolate themselves and act out. We don’t question it because it’s uncomfortable to do so, we as humans these days don’t do what needs to be done because it makes us uncomfortable and that is not okay. This can only stop if we stomp it into the ground with words like “No more!” And “Enough.” We as society can end this spell of abuse but going out of our way to stop it in its tracks. Absolutely, no more.

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