A California couple is accused of keeping their autistic son locked inside a dog kennel. Authorities said Tracy Trang Le, age 35, and Loi Vu, age 40, locked their child inside the cage to control his behavior. Following a thorough investigation, Tracy and Loi were arrested and charged with child endangerment and false imprisonment.
Authorities were alerted to the situation when Child Protective Services received an anonymous tip. The unidentified caller said the 11-year-old boy was often locked inside the cage for long periods of time.
When investigators searched the home, they discovered a large cage, which was outfitted with a mattress. Anaheim Police Department Lt. Bob Dunn said the cage looked "like a dog kennel."
Although the parents admitted they locked their son inside a cage, they believe it was for his own good. Lt. Dunn said Tracy and Loi thought the cage was the best solution to their son's behavioral issues:
"We did develop some information during our preliminary investigation... that indicated to us that because of some of the outbursts that occur because of his autism, that the family was having difficulty coping with that and controlling that... Putting him in that cage may have been a way for them to try to, in their way, control what was going on."
As reported by KTLA News, the 11-year-old boy and his siblings were removed from the home and place in protective custody. Although the situation is heartbreaking, Dunn said the arrest could help the parents "get some of the assistance that they need."
A representative with Child Protective Services said their investigation into the situation is ongoing. The agency will further inspect the home and interview friends and family to determine how often and how long the autistic boy was locked inside the dog kennel.
According to Autism Speaks, "autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S." Although the symptoms of autism can be managed, it cannot be cured.
Children and adults with autism often display unusual or disruptive behaviors, as they have difficulty communicating their wants and needs. Unfortunately, many families lack the resources and assistance to cope with the behavioral issues.
Although children and adults with autism can display challenging behavior, locking an autistic child in a dog kennel is simply unacceptable.
[Image via Shutterstock]