Ma’Khia Bryant, in case you don’t remember, was a young girl who seemed to think it was a swell idea to charge another girl with a knife just seconds after police arrived on the scene of a disturbance. For her trouble, she was shot and killed.
For about two seconds, people wanted to make a thing about the shooting, but couldn’t. After all, it was a clear-cut case of a justified shoot if ever you saw one.
Now, some Democratic lawmakers are taking a different tact when it comes to Ma’Khia Bryant. They want to focus on the foster home situation.
hree Democratic lawmakers are requesting a federal investigation into the foster care journey of Ma’Khia Bryant and the events leading up to the police shooting that resulted in her death.
Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon wrote a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families urging it to assist local authorities with their review of Bryant’s case. The lawmakers also pushed for an independent federal investigation.
“Ma’Khia should be alive today,” states the letter, which was dated May 28.
Yes, she should. However, she decided to attack another girl with a knife. At some point, we have to understand that while 16-year-olds aren’t permitted to be responsible for themselves, they do make decisions and have to be responsible for those decisions.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where some people don’t see it that way.
“When a child dies in foster care, the system has failed. It failed Ma’Khia Bryant, who lived in her foster family home for about two months before a police officer shot and killed her in front of that home on April 20, 2021,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter was written on behalf of Paula Bryant and Myron Hammonds, Ma’Khia Bryant’s birth parents. “Unfortunately, it’s apparent that the many systems responsible for Ma’Khia’s protection failed her,” Michelle Martin, the attorney for Bryant’s family said in a statement in late April.
The question is, though, whether it’s really the foster system’s fault that Ma’Khia Bryant charged another girl with a knife or not. Instead, there were other, more serious issues at play.
You see, long before Bryant ended up in the foster system, there were problems, as noted here.
Ma’Khia and her three younger siblings were removed from their mother in March 2018, after police responded to an “incident” at a residence. They found the children unsupervised and also found evidence of abuse by the mother and an older sibling. Ma’Khia’s grandmother took the children in at this point, but their mother did not comply with court orders for mental-health counseling and failed to show up for visitation with her children during this time. After 16 months, their grandmother returned them to the agency.
In other words, these kids were not removed from their biological home and their extended family because of poverty. There’s a big difference between poverty, on the one hand, and abuse and neglect. The vast majority of poor people in the United States don’t abuse their children or leave them unsupervised for long periods of time. Poor grandmothers do not drop off their children with state agencies when they’ve had enough of them. These are signs of profound dysfunction. It’s incumbent on those who want to abolish foster care to explain how giving more money to families like the Bryants would have allowed Ma’Khia to have a safe, decent childhood.
We can do much to improve foster care, to be sure. Yet children are still much less likely to suffer abuse in a foster home than in their biological one. In 2014, the median rate of reported maltreatment of children in foster care was 0.27 percent, a figure much lower than the rate for the general population—around 1 percent.
Basically, there’s no reason for Congress to waste its time looking into Ma’Khia Bryant. The girl had profound issues and it seems like even her own flesh and blood didn’t want her.
Foster families–even the best of them–aren’t going to fix a lifetime of issues. Congress, and the members who want to grandstand on the death of this girl, damn sure aren’t going to solve much of anything.
Ma’Khia Bryant is dead, but she’s dead because of her own actions. The sooner some people accept that, the happier they will be.