A Side Order of Rescue

Image © Acabashi; Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0; Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Florida waitress, Flavaine Carvalho, took action to rescue an abused boy whose family was dining out at the Mrs. Potato Restaurant where she worked [1].

Carvalho noticed that the family had ordered nothing for the boy.  When she asked whether there was any problem with the food, the waitress was told the boy would be eating at home.  This explanation did not seem satisfactory, in light of injuries on the boy’s face and arms.

Taking the initiative, Carvalho fashioned a sign reading, “Do you need help?”  Then positioned where the parents could not see, she surreptitiously held it up for the boy.  When he nodded, Carvalho called police.

On questioning, the boy described having been abused by his stepfather.  The 11 y.o. asserted he had been tied up, handcuffed, struck with a broom, and hung from a door.  Bruised and markedly underweight, the boy had been denied food as a punishment.

The boy’s stepfather was charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.  The boy’s mother — who had not sought medical attention for him — was charged with neglect.

Both the boy and a 4 y.o. sibling were removed to the custody of Florida Dept. of Children and Families.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3: 21 NASB).

The Bible encourages reasonable discipline, appropriate to a child’s age and level of understanding.  It does not condone starvation or torture.

[1]  People Magazine, ” ‘Do You Need Help?’  Florida Waitress Used Secret Sign to Rescue Boy after Noticing Abuse:  Police” by Steve Helling, 1/15/21, https://people.com/crime/florida-waitress-used-secret-sign-rescue-abused-boy/.

The National Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453).
The hotline is available 24/7 in over 170 languages.
Calls are confidential and toll free.



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion

18 responses to “A Side Order of Rescue

  1. Linda Lee/Lady Quixote

    This story is both heartbreaking and amazing. I read a news article about this, where the waitress said she wasn’t supposed to work that shift, but another server had called off, so she volunteered to work in her place.

    The waitress also said that this family was seated at the only table in the entire restaurant where she could show her sign to the boy, asking if he needed help, without the parents being able to see what she was showing him. That’s God!

  2. Bravo Flavaine Carvalho for using her instincts and calling the police. Heartbreaking what the poor boy went through. There are so many really mentally ill people in this world and they get away with their daily abuse.

  3. Brian (SearchingForLostSoul)

    It’s so nice to read about someone standing up so to speak. What’s sad is no matter what that child is traumatized. Hopefully they will provide help for him but I’m also sure living in foster care now will also take a toll. Praying he finds a good home…

  4. Just recently something similar happened in our area. Through various circumstances, a couple was found guilty of neglecting their children and refusing medical treatment to them when they needed it. They had hardly any outside contact prior. I am afraid COVID has made this even more prevalent. “Lord, help us.”

    • You are all too right, Heidi. Many people take out their anger and frustration against their children, as if children were to blame for the ills of the world. The isolation related to Covid has exacerbated this.

  5. Heartbreaking doesn’t seem sufficient. When I heard this on the news a few days ago it sickened me. It reminded me of an incident in a restaurant where a father continually berated one of his daughters as not being good enough or equal to his other daughter. The poor girl just sat there and cried.
    Humans can be so cruel to one another.

  6. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    This was wonderful to read. A saving angel was that waitress. Her actions, so tactically done have saved this boy’s life. I think it should be a pattern for many to follow and a great example that stresses that we all should keep our eyes open for signs of abuse. Great post Anna, take good care and all the best,

  7. All it takes is just one person to speak up.

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