A four-year old Alberta girl named Serenity died on Sept. 27, 2014. When she arrived in hospital a few days earlier she was suffering from catastrophic injuries, including a fractured skull and starvation. She was hypothermic. There were signs of sexual abuse. A forensic pediatrician determined her injuries were inconsistent with a fall. There were repeated reports of abuse during Serenity’s care.
THE ONLY THING NECESSARY FOR THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL IS THAT GOOD PEOPLE DO NOTHING.
Serenity arrived at a hospital in central Alberta on Sept. 18, 2014, suffering from a suspected head injury, with “blown”or dilated pupils. She was four years and three months old. She weighed just 18 pounds, the weight of a typical nine-month-old baby.
Notes from the emergency room describe “multiple bruises all over her body, some green in color and others purple.”
The notes describe bruising to the child’s pubic area. Her hymen was gone.
When she arrived at the hospital, Serenity was also suffering from severe hypothermia, with a rectal temperature of 30.1 C. Normal for a child is 37 to 38 C.
Serenity was airlifted to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Doctors determined she had suffered “a severe and horrific brain injury,” with no hope of recovery. In addition to bruising on her chest and back, she had genital bruising and “unusual bruising around her anus.”
Court documents say Serenity’s siblings, then five and six, told Zebra Child Protection interviewers they had been abused by two adults living in the home.
Never Forget Serenity
Photos of Serenity show a smiling, chubby-cheeked baby and a solid, playful toddler with a wide, wild grin. But a cousin, who had a brief visit with the children seven months before Serenity’s death, took photos of a very different child with skeleton-thin arms, gaunt wrists, a cut, bruised face and haunting, sad eyes that had lost their light and mischief.
A year before her death, Serenity was at the 50th percentile for size — absolutely average. Twelve months later, her weight was so low, it’s simply not on the chart for a four-year-old girl.
On January 12, 2017 Paula Simons, Journal editor and now a Canadian Senator wrote, “How was this allowed to happen? How was it that children’s services simply gave guardianship of three children to this couple despite the allegations of abuse, then never checked up on them? How did a child starve in a province of plenty? Why, despite the horrifying medical evidence, has no one been charged with anything?”
More Than Justice
I feel responsible.
Serenity’s death is not someone else’s problem. The problem is, all too soon her story will be replaced in your memory by some other headline or trending story.
Serenity’s story is a call to action. Albertans must do everything we can to prevent tragedies like this one.
There is no justice for Serenity but you and I can do something.
Awareness, Prevention and Healing
1 in every 3 Canadian girls is sexually abused.
1 in every 6 Canadian boys is sexually abused.
75% of abuse that is reported is initiated by a family member.
Childhood trauma, mental illness, and addiction are linked. I’ve spent forty years of my life helping adults deal with addictions and mental illness. For too long I missed the childhood trauma piece.
I am devoted to preventing childhood sexual abuse and helping survivors of childhood traumas through the work of Little Warriors and the Be Brave Ranch. Sign up for free training on preventing child sexual abuse.
I’ve taken the course and will be taking it again.
And in the heartache of injustice, keep in mind all the foster families in Alberta who are doing a wonderful job loving and supporting the 10,000 boys and girls in our care.
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