Chances are, if you have had access to any source of media within the last week, you have heard the disturbing story of Ariel Castro and the Cleveland kidnappings. At this point, many questions are still left unanswered, and America is once again left wondering how someone could do such horrific things to innocent individuals. As we witness one of the most shocking news stories of 2013, and rejoice in the discovery of the three young ladies, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, we must do more than simply observe and speculate. While Ariel Castro has received a great amount of media coverage, he is only one of many sick and twisted abductors who have abandoned any sense of morale and stolen the lives of young, innocent children. It is our duty as American citizens, as neighbors, as parents, and as friends to educate ourselves on how we can prevent such atrocities from happening.
One of the most effective ways we can help prevent occurrences such as the Ariel Castro abductions is to take advantage of a “no stalking order,” an order of protection. In Illinois, a person is legally permitted to file an order of protection on behalf of another individual. In situations where a minor is involved, there is the added power of DCFS behind the protective order, which can arguably be considered more effective than the power of police involvement alone.
Looking closer at the Ariel Castro case, there arise reports of individuals claiming to have witnessed strange occurrences on the property of Castro, including the sighting of a naked girl on a leash, crawling on all fours in Castro’s backyard. One witness claims to have questioned Castro about a young girl he was frequently with, of which Castro replied and claimed the girl was his “girlfriend’s daughter” (CNN). In retrospect, While police were called, and even sent out to the scene, they did not take reports seriously enough to enter the house to conduct a full investigation.
So how could Castro’s neighbors have better assisted the three captive girls? By calling DCFS, and by filing an order of protection on behalf of whomever they may have suspected to be suffering at the hand of Castro. In the event that DCFS is called on behalf of a minor, they are legally responsible for conducting a thorough investigation of the household in question, and a hearing is scheduled within 48 hours of the call. In order for a no stalking order or an order of protection to be filed, 3 criteria must be met. A no stalking order requires:
1) a course of action…A course of action is defined as any occurrence happening more than once. A single event is not enough to file such an order.
2)…which causes a reasonable person…For definitive purposes, a reasonable person is anyone in their right mind who is able to file a legitimate complaint against a perpetrator, and who is making an honest and reasonable claim to protect their safety. This provision prevents those who may have severe paranoia or anxiety from misinterpreting or making false claims against another individual.
3)…to fear for their safety or emotional distress. The terms “safety” and “emotional distress” provide for a great deal of qualifying actions. Examples of such actions that may threaten a person’s safety or emotional well-being include physical threats, repeated texting after being asked to stop, following, and making appearances at one’s place of work or school.
Knowledge of how to file a no stalking order of protection against another individual that you fear may be in danger is an invaluable tool to help prevent child abductions like those in the Ariel Castro case. Simply calling the police may not be enough to save whoever you’re concerned about. If you suspect a child of being in danger in any way, just like the neighbors of Castro, you have a moral obligation to call DCFS and to possibly file an order of protection on behalf of the child. In the event that your suspicions are confirmed, you will be glad you did.
For more information on DCFS or how to file a no stalking order of protection, please contact the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.