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Grandparents Listen Up

Toni Maurie Gwynn was a 17-month angel who died July 10, 2013 in Eden, North Carolina. She was found suffocated and strapped to a car seat. Apparently, she had not had food or water for many hours.

The latest “who dun it” was resolved last week with her father Antonio Gwynn pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

The mother who is being sentenced for manslaughter helped the police and sheriff’s department find a missing blanket in a pond in Rockingham County. The blanket was the murder weapon.

Unfortunately, in this case there were interested grandparents who were being isolated from not only Toni, but her two siblings. The mother, Heather Gwynn, and the father, Antonio Gwynn, were also running from the authorities, apparently including social services. It appears that social services looked into the family in Burlington. The family then moved to another county. The secret records of social services prevent us really looking at whether or not social services did their job. Apparently, they did not do their job, but it is typical for social services not to do a particularly good job. Why were not these children identified and placed with grandparents? There were lots of red flags apparently, but none of them were heeded to.

Keep in mind that grandparents can bring a custody action as a third party if the parents are unfit and if the parents have abrogated their constitutional rights. Grandparents in such situations can request drug testing which is frequently a cause of infant and young child abuse.

I hope we do not have to wait for more infants and toddlers to die with grandparents that could intervene.

Also, there should be more accountability from social services to the general public. The secrecy of social services records keeps the general public and perhaps even other concerned family members from knowing what is going on in the lives of young children. These records should no longer be held secret, and there need to be serious policy changes with regard to the secrecy of social services records. Social services secrecy means no accountability from social services to the general public and to families.