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Resource ID: #23895
Subject: Social Services
Source: Boston Globe
Date: 2008-06-01



The single 7,500-word story chronicled the life and death of Acia Johnson, a South Boston girl who seemed to be doing everything right: getting good grades in school, becoming a standout basketball player with a chance at a scholarship to go to a good high school and taking care of her younger sister. That was until her house was set ablaze last April in what authorities said was a jealous rage by her mother's lover. Acia burned to death along with her three-year-old sister in her third-floor bedroom closet. Her mother stood, safe, on the ground with the family dog. Her father was in jail. It was the last in a long list of instances of neglect recounted in the story. Anyone could have saved her life--her parents, drug addicts and sometimes violent petty criminals who never managed to get straight' neighbors who knew about the violent family fights and often didn't call police; friends who did nothing though thought it unusual that Acia was left to care for her sister while their parents were out running thr streets; social workers who had declared Acia's parents unfit in 2003 and placed her in the custody of her grandmother but who never figured out that she was still living with her mother. They didn't figure it out even though they frequently visited Acia at her mother's house, including two days before the fire. They didn't figure it out even though her mother reported Acia was living with her when she applied for housing subsidies, food stamps and cash assistance. And they didn't figure it out even though her mother's house was listed as Acia's primary residence at her middle school.

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