A 7-year-old Ohio boy was found in front of a drug store trying to sell his teddy bear for food, and his parents have been charged with multiple counts of child endangerment, WLWT (Cincinnati) is reporting.
Officer Steve Dunham responded to a call of a young boy hanging out in front of a drug store in Franklin, a city of about 11,000 people in southwest Ohio. The caller had reported that the boy was trying to sell his teddy bear to get money for food.
“It broke my heart. He told me he was trying to sell his stuffed animal to get money for food because he hadn’t eaten in several days.”
Dunham took the boy to a nearby Subway — Dunham says the two “said a little prayer” before eating — and then took him back to the Franklin Police Department while they tried to figure out what was going on.
As it turns out, the boy — and his brothers, ages 11, 12, 15, and 17 — had been living in squalor. Child advocates found the home strewn with garbage and liquor bottles and reeking of cat urine. The parents, Tammy and Michael Bethel, have each been charged with 10 counts of child endangering.
Dunham’s boss, Police Chief Russ Whitman, said that Dunham’s example of going above and beyond the call of duty is what is expected of police officers.
“[Police] treated them like their own kids, and that’s exactly what law enforcement does in situations like this. How would we want someone to treat our kids? Hopefully, these officers’ actions change these kids’ lives and maybe change the lives of the parents to become better parents.”
Dunham, meanwhile, says he and the young boy have become fast friends.
“I came back to check on him and he was hiding. He jumped out to scare me when I came back in the building; he got me real good. [We] would like to go home at the end of the day feeling like [we’ve] done something positive and, you know, had some kind of positive impact.”
In a day and age when police are often under scrutiny for the actions of some their colleagues and tensions are high between police and the general public, stories of police doing a solid for someone in need are refreshing. And in fact, such stories happen more often than not.
Just yesterday, the Inquisitr reported on the heartbreaking story of a Roman couple whose neighbors called the police to check on them because they (the neighbors) heard crying from inside their apartment. When police turned up, they found that the elderly couple were safe — they were just lonely and hungry. Cops whipped a meal to share with their new friends, and since the story broke, the Roman police have been flooded with cards and well-wishes for the elderly couple.
— CNN (@CNN) August 9, 2016
Similarly, in a story from outside of Massachusetts earlier this year, State Trooper Luke Bonin was caught on camera sharing a meal with a homeless mother panhandling by the side of the road. Bonin, who was dressed in his Sunday best after having been to court, drove by and saw the woman with her sign asking for money. Bonin drove to a nearby food stop, got two meals, and returned to the scene to have lunch with the woman.
Back in Ohio, as of this writing, it is unclear where the boy found selling his teddy bear for food has been sent to live, be it with relatives or the foster care system.
[Image via BrAt82/Shutterstock]