Sometimes bad things happen in good places. That was the case last week at Joseph's Home for Boys in Bulloch County.
A 17-year-old resident of the home was charged with aggravated child molestation and several other horrific offenses. Police said he committed the acts against another resident at the home. His guilt or innocence will be determined later, but, regardless, such heinous charges at a group home are terrible to hear.
Joseph's Home for Boys was founded years ago to provide a group of boys ages 6 through teenagers a nurturing and safe home environment they would not have otherwise. And that's exactly what the overwhelming majority of boys get who have lived at Joseph's through the years and those who live there now,
In fact, Joseph's has given a loving home to dozens and dozens of boys – a home that allowed those kids the chance to grow into mature and responsible adults.
One shining example is Deangelo Tyson. Tyson came to Joseph's about nine years ago as a fourth-grader. He is set to graduate from Statesboro High in May with a scholarship to play football at the University of Georgia. Tyson has praised his home life at Joseph's several times in public.
Certainly, not all boys have the same success as Tyson. Boys placed at Joseph's come from troubled homes and sometimes are recovering victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Some adjust slowly to their new surroundings, some not at all and many thrive like Deangelo Tyson. All, however, deserve to feel safe at the home.
It's clear the professionals who operate Joseph's understand and embrace that responsibility. The alleged crime was reported as soon as officials became aware something happened.
Ray McKinney, past chairman and current member of the board for Joseph's Home for Boys, said: "I know the staff makes every effort, and we have a lot of policies in place regarding the boys being alone and chaperoning. The staff is trained and conditioned in ways to detect and prevent situations like this."
The state Division of Family and Children Services, no doubt, will investigate the procedures used to safeguard the boys at Joseph's. It is the right thing to do, and we are confident the state will not find the incident resulted from negligence on the part of any staff at Joseph's. We also are confident the staff will work even harder to make sure something similar never happens again.
Joseph's serves a vital role in helping boys from broken homes find a place to feel safe and secure and help build a path to as normal a life as possible. One incident, however horrible, must not affect that mission.