Shaniya Davis: AP Photo/National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Shaniya Davis is the most recent innocent victim in a confluence of things gone wrong in the world. She was found dead today, according to the Associated Press. Her mother, Antoinette Davis, allegedly sold her own daughter into prostitution to someone who saw fit to "buy" her, abuse her, kill her and dump her body. Mario Andrette McNeill, is in custody and so far has been charged with kidnapping.
The little girl's father, Bradley Lockhart, had raised her for the past several years, and then, just a month ago, turned her back over to her mother, who had recently gotten a steady job and a place to live. According to news reports, the little girl was the product of a one-night stand between Lockhart and Antionette Davis.
The more people are victimized by one another and the earlier in life it begins, the harder it is to stop the cycle of abuse. The swirling confluence of pedophilia, prostitution, one-night stands, drug abuse, desperation, lack of bonding, sexual abuse, mental illness, and sociopathy, may have both created and ended the life of this innocent girl. Is help available? Can tragedies like this be prevented? Can the cycle of victimization be broken if people would only reach out for help?
According to a 2007 report by Adelphi University, Mental Health on Long Island, there were mixed results on how Long Island was meeting mental health needs. On some issues—self-inflicted injury, suicide, drug abuse—the region was performing well, with aggregate rates lower than state and national levels. On others—county jail inmates with mental illness and homeless with mental illness—Long Island was faring as poorly as the rest of the state and nation. Overall, Suffolk performed less well than Nassau on a number of measures, including suicide, domestic violence, drug abuse, and self-inflicted injury.
Still, help is available to those who reach out for it. In Nassau County, the Mental Health Association offers free crisis help and referrals from 9am until 9pm, 7 days and holidays. Call 516-504-HELP (4357) According to their website, "504.HELP is a simple way to speak with a mental health professional about problems, questions or challenges that you, a family member or a friend may be facing.
"Our staff searches an extensive information and referral network to connect callers with appropriate mental health, substance abuse services and community resources.
"Our mental health professionals are qualified to help with difficult life decisions, family problems, relationships, illnesses, children and adolescents, aging parents, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, stress, mental illnesses, suicide, physical or emotional abuse and harassment."
In Suffolk, the Mental Health Association offers a community guide to mental health services. They also offer assessment and referral by phone at 631-226-3900.
Just picking up the phone, on behalf of yourself, or someone else, has the potential to change the course of things and prevent another tragedy like the Shaniya Davis story.