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Ah, to be 17 again: Jasmine Bedwell controversy

Think back to when you were 17.

Those were the best days of your life, right? You were making all the best decisions. You probably regret nothing. Now, imagine that you’re Jasmine Bedwell, a 17-year-old living in Tampa, Fla.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Bedwell’s life has gone something like this: She’s run away from home more than 21 times. When she was in the fifth grade, her mother had a boyfriend call the police on Bedwell claiming that she had gotten physically violent over doing chores. Jeff Rainey, president and CEO of Hillsborough Kids Inc. said that she was abused all of her life by her caretakers.

Bedwell, who is now 17, gave birth to a baby boy named Emanuel Murray. The child’s father is Emanuel Wesley Murray and he is currently in prison. She became involved with a 21-year-old named Richard McTear Jr. who, to make a long story very short, threw baby Emanuel out of his car on I-275 on May 5.

Bedwell pressed charges against McTear and he now faces the possibility of the death penalty. According to the St. Petersburg Times, he’s facing murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse charges.

If you’re like me, Bedwell’s life is nothing like your life when you were 17. Many of us can’t even imagine living in her shoes at this stage in our lives. I can’t imagine the pain and guilt she’s feeling.

As she deals with the tragic death of her child, news just broke that she’s thinking about setting out on a suing streak. Included would be her apartment complex, Hillsborough County Sherrif’s Office, the Department of Children & Families and Hillsborough Kids. All of which she would be claiming a “wrongful death” charge. Her reasoning is that since she’s a child herself, these agencies should have had her, basically, on a shorter leash.

In her mind, it’s not her fault that she didn’t stay away from McTear, even after she had a restraining order filed against him for abuse. The proper paperwork never went through so the restraining order was void.

This case has brought a whole new controversy. Apparently we don’t care about McTear anymore, now everyone is upset that Bedwell is being so irresponsible and not willing to take the blame, which is probably NOTHING like how any of us acted when we were 17 and did something wrong.

This story took the front page of the Tampa Bay Times, a publication of the St. Petersburg Times on Thursday. Published inside were the nasty comments of Hillsborough residents who are outraged. These were taken from Tampabay.com on Wednesday:

“Wow! What a piece of irresponsible garbage this woman is. Her sense of entitlement is staggering.”

“Poor me my baby’s dead but hey I just won the lawsuit lotto! I feel much better.”

Right, speaking of maturity!

I’m not sure what’s more incredible, the fact that these people will probably not be directly affected by this situation at all, regardless of the outcome, or their inability to understand that the loss of a loved one is an awfully difficult situation to deal with at any age.

I’m all about speaking your mind but, without sensitivity, it can return void.

Think back to when you were 17. If this was your life, what would you cling to?

3 comments so far

I’m greatly saddened by the hateful things people are saying about Jasmine! My heart goes out to her – she has experienced so much abuse and suffering.

The more people write about/talk about/psychoanalyze Jasmine, the more McTear – THE ACTUAL MURDERER – fades into the background. I want to know why there aren’t a gazillion blog posts and articles dissecting and vilifying HIM? He’s the murderer/abuser, who has a long, long history of violent crime.

The System DOES fail to protect/help abused women, all.the.time. It’s appalling to me that people blame Jasmine for “allowing” McTear to murder her baby, by “not following through” with the protective order against him. For starters, the court system is complicated to navigate, intimidating, and typically unsympathetic to women who have been abused. The legal system was set up by men, for men. Restraining orders are mere pieces of paper, that don’t mean/do anything unless police enforce them – which they often don’t. Many, many women have been murdered by the men they had restraining orders against. Statistics show that the MOST dangerous time in a battered woman’s life is the 6-month period after she breaks up with and/or gets a restraining order against her abuser – that’s when he is MOST likely to seriously injure or kill her. This is one big reason many women “don’t follow through” with restraining orders – they know restraining orders are either useless or increase their danger.

The System does NOT support women who have been abused by men. The media, which is a part of The System, is a perfect example: look at all the victim-blaming going on. Not just of Jasmine, but of abused women in general. When everyone keeps asking, “Why didn’t she just leave?” or “Why did she let him [hurt her child]?”, it takes the focus off of THE ABUSERS THEMSELVES, and thus absolves the abusers of their crimes. Oh, yeah, he’s scum…. but she should have known better is what we always hear.
Women are forever trapped in a double bind – they get blamed for “allowing” themselves and/or their children to be abused, and for not “leaving” the abuse…but we, as a society, do not provide these women with the necessary compassion, support, and resources TO escape the abuse.

I understand what Britta wrote, however, way too many young women today seem to view pregnancy/ motherhood as a right of passage to adulthood. Then it seems that society is expected to take care of them both. Jasmine is apparently a product of this type of upbringing & she repeated the vicious cycle. These young women need to learn BEFORE having children that it’s no longer “me” but “we” & that it’s their duty as a mother to keep their child(ren) out of harms way. That means not bringing any stray males into their home – the home of their child(ren). Jasmine cannot claim that she needed the money McTear brought in since she was already being supported by the state. I realize that there are many abused women & I also realize that it’s not as easy as just leaving the abuser. However, in Jasmine’s case, I find her partially culpable in the death of her child as she brought McTear into the home of her & her child – knowingly against the rules of the Department of Children & Families where no one was allowed to move into her apartment! I believe BOTH Jasmine & McTear should be prosecuted in the death of Emanuel Wesley.

jasmine was my friend but she was real stupid people told her to leave him alone but she didnt she could of saved her baby life me personley i dont thank she realy cared that much that is sad im 18 i have a two year old son i would of done anythang to save my son life she could of done more stop thankin bout bein in love that aint gone get you know were an it didnt it cause her baby life.

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