Tyrese Ruffin. At the beginning of the month, we had no idea who this person was. Then we learned this abused child was the 2-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson, the reigning NFL MVP.
That was enough to stop the presses.
Then he died.
About 100 people attended a service for Tyrese in Sioux Falls on Tuesday night, 11 days after his death, and the media coverage has been overwhelming. Why? Because he was a cute kid? No. It's because of who his father is. You see, ESPN normally doesn't cover child abuse.
While sad and tragic, we must remember Tyrese's case is just one of millions reported every year. In a perfect world, those cases would all get as much attention as Tyrese's has.
If there's a silver lining in this horrible story, it's the light that can potentially be shed on the child abuse epidemic in this country. The very fact that this space is being used today as a forum to provide statistical information about child abuse is proof that Tyrese's death has at least brought more awareness to child abuse and has reminded all of us that this problem needs to be addressed - aggressively.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Government Accountability Office, there are more than 3 million reports of child abuse made in the U.S. involving more than 6 million children, and the U.S. has among the worst records among industrialized nations, losing, on average, between four and seven children each day to child abuse and neglect.
The DHHS also says that child fatalities per day that are attributed to maltreatment was estimated at 4.3 in 2011. Also, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the U.S., according to the website Childhelp-usa.com
The man charged in Tyrese's death, Joseph Patterson, the mother's boyfriend, is set to be arraigned Monday, so Tyrese's story isn't going away anytime soon. And, for all intents and purposes, that's a good thing, because while we mourn the loss of this little 2-year-old we must also remember that families of abused boys and girls who don't have celebrity ties deserve our thoughts and prayers as well.