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A World of Insanity: The Horrendous Crimes of Child Abuse

Describes the case of Sylvia Likens in regards to the broader sense of insanity in our world.

There have been several cases in our  history of such a horrendous magnitude as to truly make me question humanity. Of course it is well known that human nature can be evil and horrendous in a nature all of its own but at times I really wonder, “Can it get any worst than that”-and then it does.

The media in the last decade has been filled with heart wrenching and stomach turning stories regarding the abuse and murder of children. This is not a new phenomenon. Our country almost from the beginning of its creation has had stories of the like. It is not a nation wide problem but a world occurrence or perhaps it is just human evil or plain insanity (as most who are charged with a crime of a child are defended by).

In the 1960s one of the most horrible crimes to be committed against a child took place in Indiana. The victim was a young girl, Sylvia placed in care of a neighbor by her parents along with her sister, Jenny. The woman that was entitled to their care was a single mother of seven named Gertrude. Gertrude would often take out her own frustrations on the girls. She once accused Sylvia of being pregnant when in fact it was her own daughter who was pregnant and as a result “punished” her in some of the most severe and disturbing ways that I have heard of. She forced the girl to force a glass coke bottle into herself vaginally. She also kicked her in the genitalia, and beat her. (A medical exam later proved that the girl was never pregnant). Gertrude along with local children and her own would all share the experience of beating Sylvia as well as burning her with cigarettes, needles, and eye bolts. She also forced her to consume feces and urine.Gertrude at one point began carving “I am a prostitute and am proud of it” into the girl’s stomach but when unable to finish the job passed the responsibility on to a neighbor boy. Gertrude kept Sylvia imprisoned in her basement for months under punishment and after an attempted escape Sylvia was bound to a pole in the basement by lock. I suppose in premeditation, Gertrude forced Sylvia to write a letter confessing to being a prostitute and that a group of boys beat her, burned her, and carved the inscription into  her abdomen.A few days later on October 26, 1965 Sylvia died from malnutrition, shock, and a brain hemorrhage due to the severe beatings she had received.She was 16 years old.

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