Letter to the Editor on the Death of Tommy Valva, Newsday, by Andrew Malekoff

Letter to the Editor on the Death of Tommy Valva, Newsday, by Andrew Malekoff

Community members attended the March for Change in
Community members attended the March for Change in honor of Thomas Valva on Feb. 8 at Heckscher State Park in Suffolk County. Credit: Shelby Knowles

My head is still spinning after reading “How the system failed Tommy” [News, Feb. 16], a story about the tragic death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva.

The harrowing story has a Rashomon quality of contradictory interpretations of events by many individuals charged with protecting Thomas.

I did find a few constants in the story. Although unstated, Thomas likely experienced traumatic stress from being maltreated and then subjected to a long line of presumably well-meaning strangers, charged with determining how to best keep him safe. The other constant was his mother’s repeated warnings to the authorities that “his life is in danger.”

The system did indeed fail Thomas, yet no one individual was reported to have stated that they made any missteps.

For the sake of Thomas’ legacy, some degree of individual responsibility will have to be taken to advance systemic change.

Andrew Malekoff,
Long Beach

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of the nonprofit children’s mental health center, North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights.