Reaction Paper for Tender Mercies
In the book Tender Mercies, Keith Richards' first person account of his experiences as a child maltreatment investigator for child protective services (CPS) has a compelling way of capturing my attention. His stories are very emotional and the heartbreaking reports hit me like a brick. The first case study that he recounts is that of Jenny, a blue-eyed, golden-haired five years old with blisters on her fingers. Richards suspects that Jenny's father intentionally burned her fingers as a punishment, as her mother's explanation, which is that hot coffee slashed on them when Jenny accidentally upset a cup, is unconvincing. As a reader, I empathized with Richards' frustration, as he has to leave without gaining clear evidence of abuse. I really didn’t understand the level of complexities that were involved on ends, the system and the families, until I read this book.
I found that the narrative of the text goes back and forth between the homes of the author's clients and his work environment. I thought this was a very insightful way of describing his experience personally. On one hand, Richards deals with dysfunctional families and his account shows that, on the other hand, he deals with a dysfunctional bureaucracy that struggles to contend with legal requirements, a huge caseload and its enormous responsibility to protect the children of New York State.
For example, after his initial investigation of the MacAvoy home and Jenny, Richards contacted a "doctor friend," Dr. Irving Bronson, as Richards is hoping that Dr. Bronson will be able to testify if the burns on Jenny's fingers are due to a splatter or immersion after seeing the injury confirmed that this was a difficult decision to make.
The three major points to me that are presented in the book are the following, the first being families that caseworkers investigate and turns into a positive successful ending. The family that successful...