Toronto Sun

12 April 2000

Can no one help this boy?

By Steve Simmons
Toronto Sun

Derrek Parry is a six-year-old boy with a rap sheet this thick, trapped in a legal quagmire that is failing him miserably.

His father, a policeman, claims his mother repeatedly slapped Derrek last November and he says he has the evidence to prove it.

His mother, no longer married, admits she used force to discipline her youngest son, but adds he also injured himself by falling at school and being involved in a physical altercation.

The Belleville Police and the Children's Aid Society have done less than sterling investigations into the matter, neither of them accomplishing anything in the process but both of them adding to the overt frustration.

And a little boy's future somehow gets lost in legal arguments, finger-pointing and ambivalence. A little boy in need of so much help.

Since something happened to Derrek Parry on Nov. 25 -- a beating, a fall, there were no witnesses -- this much is evident. The child's behaviour in Grade 1 at Park Dale Public School has been so reprehensible that principals and vice-principals have written nine different letters to Ms. Parry detailing assaults on other students, punches to the head and the stomach, choking girls, swearing at students. Aggressive incidents, all of them: Derrek has been suspended from school in November, December, February and March.

He is, it needs to be reiterated, all of six years old.

"I've been a policeman for 15 years and I've never seen such a reluctance to represent a child," said Const. Kevin Parry of the Quinte West police force, the father who has since remarried. "I don't believe anyone is representing my son.

"I am truly ashamed of what I do right now. I'm shocked, I'm confused, I'm disappointed and I'm really ashamed, if this is the system that protects our children ...

"I'm petrified something (bad) is going to happen. This is a very disturbed little boy and nobody seems to be willing to do anything for him."

An affidavit filed by Daphne Lok of the Children's Aid Society dated March 21 determined there had been an altercation between Ms. Parry, the mother, and Derrek. "It was determined,'' Lok wrote, "that, although serious in nature, the incident appeared to be an isolated one. No criminal charges were laid."

Lok also wrote that "due to the seriousness of the recent incident" Ms. Parry needs counselling to "address Derrek's treatment needs."

In other words, the Children's Aid Society determined that mother hit child but the child was the problem.

The Belleville Police were no more help. They told Const. Parry they didn't want to get involved in a "custody battle."

They told him that after a less than thorough investigation, Parry said. Ms. Parry told police that Derrek had hurt himself falling at school and had also been involved in a physical altercation at school on the date in question.

Park Dale, which has documented all of Derrek's difficulties in great detail, has no record of any altercation on Nov. 25, and no teacher reported any marks on Derrek's face.

The Children's Aid Society never attempted to corroborate Ms. Parry's story.

Const. Parry was so frustrated by the lack of action by the CAS and by Belleville Police he contacted the local Crown attorney's office. This didn't help. The office in Belleville said they were too busy and passed the matter on to the Napanee office. The Napanee office sent the matter to the Kingston office for a second opinion. The Kingston office has sat with the case since March 16, indicating they don't know if they'll proceed in the matter. Parry went before a justice of the peace and made a citizen's complaint. Only then did the matter go forward.

Parry brought the matter to Dr. Dirk Huyer, director of the suspected child-abuse and neglect program at the Hospital for Sick Children, who examined the evidence in the case and concluded that "the injury pattern is consistent with a forceful slap to the face by an adult hand.'' Dr. Huyer wrote that had the child been held down the way the mother described, there would have been similar marks on both sides of the face, not just on one.

"The focus is on the accused and not the child," said Const. Parry. "I want the focus on the child. The issue here is this boy is going down the tubes and we have to stop it."

And right now, no one seems to know how to get that done.

Copyright © 2000, Canoe Limited Partnership.