Imagine a world in which you watch your 17-year-old child being lost to drugs, heroin to be exact. You do everything you can to help your child, send them away from friends who are using, to family and a new school where they get clean and drug free.
Time passes and, feeling safe in your child’s recovery, you bring them home where they belong; only to have your child hounded by the same drug dealer offering, once again, a steady supply of deadly poison.
Your resources are limited. Even though you provide direction and evidence, the police cannot or will not do enough to get the dealer off the street. What would you do, if it were you child?
For one Missouri mother, Sherrie Gavan, the issue was forced in 2011 when the young man she asserts was her son’s supplier showed up to her workplace while her son was there with her. Her son pointed him out to her, identifying the vehicle as belonging to his source. Gavan’s reaction to this appearance is a matter of record – she drove to his house and confronted him.
There are two versions of the story, one in which he reaches into a car as if to pull something out it – and she assumes he is going to injure her, so she pulls a bat from her own vehicle and swings in self-defense. The second version, told by the alleged dealer’s father, is one in which she exits her car with a bat in hand and takes an unprovoked swing at the young man.
In either case, the blow makes contact. In a taped interview she says they continued their conversation, one in which the young man admitted that he had been warned by his father to stay away from her child. Again he moves towards her, she feels threatened and another blow is landed. Neither blow is life threatening; but, in retrospect, seems to have done the trick. The young man never had contact with her son again.
Gavan’s son is now 19, about to graduate high school and drug free. For many parents this would be a victory, but this is where the slope gets slippery. The accused drug dealer visited the sheriff’s office a few hours after the altercation.
Sherrie Gavan was arrested and charged. After a subsequent trial, she was found guilty of third-degree assault by the state of Missouri and is scheduled for sentencing on June 4th.
There are some who argue that if the state could not or would not do anything to protect her child against the individual who was supplying her child with poison that the drastic measures she took are understandable, even heroic. There are others who say it is vigilantism at its worst and that she deserves to be punished.
No matter what tack you take, one must concede that drugs are a very real problem within our nation. We see a culture that glamorizes alcohol and drugs in television, music and movies: with little wonder as to its appeal to impressionable minds.
Children are being lost at alarming rates, lured away by “feel good” drugs with hardly an inkling of their true cost. Their life experience is limited, but as adults we have seen more. We have watched siblings; family or friends succumb to momentary escape offered by drugs until the craving for that escape becomes all consuming.
From a very young age we are taught to call the police and wait for their help. When the wolf is at the door, they cannot get there soon enough. In the case of addiction, sometimes they come too late. Often, they do not come at all.
In this particular case, we have a young man with his entire life ahead of him pursued by one who wanted to drag him back into a lifestyle which would, most likely, ultimately kill him – heroin addiction. In spite of the fact that she is facing a year in prison Gavan says she would do it again.
In her taped interview Gavan explained that just days before the incident her son’s friend had been buried, his death was the result of a heroin overdose.
That insight gives one reason to pause and wonder how many parents out there who have lost their children to addiction wish they had been on the swinging end that bat.