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Posted at 12:09 PM ET, 10/27/2011

Post reporter responds to comments on Children’s Hospital story

Post reporter Josh White responded to reader comments about today’s story reporting that lawyers for Children’s Hospital, which currently has a 10-year-old boy in its custody, planned to go to court Thursday to ask a judge to have the boy’s mother or Prince George’s County come and get him.

His comments are below. You can share your own views here on washingtonpost.com.

White wrote: I wanted to answer a few questions that have come up and provide some additional context.

We do not know much about the boy’s mother, other than that she has raised him since birth. We had an appointment to speak with her last night, but she did not show up. According to court records, the boy has had a long history of behavioral problems, dating back to when he was about 3 years old. He has had significant troubles in school, including bullying, throwing and destroying objects, and threats to hurt himself and others. He was recently suspended and barred from his last school in late August, which came just before the most recent episode that landed him at Children’s Hospital.

From our reporting, it certainly sounds like his mother has been trying to get him help, and he has been admitted to Children’s on at least four occasions. She, too, has been in a tumultuous relationship with a man identified in court papers as the boy’s “stepfather.” Two times in the past year she has filed for a peace order and a protective order against the man, both related to allegations of domestic violence. In each case, the orders were dismissed when the mother did not show up in court.

Court records show that the boy has indicated he becomes angry and destructive after interactions with his stepfather. Sources close to the situation said the boy has never been in legal trouble and has not interacted with the juvenile justice system.

Though some readers have doubted that the boy was ready for discharge from the hospital on September 25, that is what hospital officials noted in court records and what appears to be substantiated in hospital records. He stopped his violent behavior, began interacting with the other children in a more normal way, and was expressing a desire to go home and be with his family. In the days that followed, after attempts to find him outpatient or residential treatment, his mother refused to take him from the hospital, saying that she didn’t believe he was ready, according to the documents.

Since that time, the boy has been visited by his maternal grandparents and his biological father, who told me on Wednesday that he learned of the boy’s stay at the hospital just last week. He said he has visited him almost every day since and speaks to him by telephone multiple times each day. He said he very much wants to take custody of the boy and believes he is doing as well as can be expected given the circumstances. The boy’s grandmother has said she will step in if needed, but she has no legal right to custody at this point.

Our reporting shows that almost everyone wants what is best for the boy, it’s just hard to determine what that would be. Putting aside any blame, I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts about the best solution.

By Washington Post Editors  |  12:09 PM ET, 10/27/2011

Categories:  From the Editors, Reader Questions, The District

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