Abused and Neglected Children
There is a need for the reporting practices for child abuse to be uniform. Children are the future of any society and they deserve the respect of being treated with the same quality of concern for their safety as any other individual in our society. We must advocate for them by holding everyone responsible for the well-being.
Abused and Neglected Children
Questions of Protocol for Reporting Abuse
National statistics show around 80% of children who die from abuse are under the age of four years. The statistics show that 50-60% of child fatalities due to abuse are not recorded as such on the death certificates. Child abuse and neglect is shameful. Part of the problem seems to be the reporting process. Several national and state agencies collect and analyze data pertaining to child abuse and neglect but there seems to be some discrepancies in the collection of information.
The collection methods don't seem to be uniform. When children die from abuse justice can be very illusive. For example, there was a case where the parents were vegans and they starved their 9 month old child to death-feeding the child on a fruit based diet, this led to a baby death by vegan-ism. The parents were spared jail. We add, mothers who are vegans don't have some of the essential nutrients in their breast milk that the child needs to keep from starving.
We hasten to add, not every suspicion or situation of abuse or neglect is reported to child protection services or (CPS) agencies. The physical abuse most commonly named in child abuse cases is head trauma, violent shaking and internal bleeding from being punched in the abdomen.
There was a story in the Lexington Kentucky newspaper, the Herald-Leader December13, 2011 which spoke of the 85 cases of fatal and near-fatal cases in the state covering 2009-2010. Thirty-five of these cases involved deaths and 43 cases were near-fatal. The article said the following.
Robert Houlihan, Jr., an attorney for the Herald-Leader, spoke his concerns about the reporting process of child services here in the state because the names of the dead children/victims were redacted. The paper quoted Mr. Houlihan as saying.
“Where there has been a fatality, there can be no justification that I see to redact that name of the dead victim.”
Mr. Houlihan was referencing to the case of a three month old child who died from suffering a brain injury. The father said he was bathing the baby and she slipped out of his hands and her head hit the faucet. Test showed hemorrhaging of the brain. The father pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter. It seems the father should have been assessed for drug use. The child's mother had tested positive for drugs at the hospital when the baby was born. This article was written by Valerie Honeycutt Spears.
National statistics show that 40% of child abuse victims were abused by their mothers, acting alone; 18.3 percent were injured by their fathers, acting alone; 17.3 percent were abused by both parents;6.8 percent by other relatives and under1% were foster parents, residential facilities, daycare providers, neighbors or others. The reports show that substance abuse and domestic violence were chronic problems for families in which children were killed or badly hurt.
Pennsylvania has the lowest rate of child abuse cases in the nation, with a 1.3 per 1000 children ratio.
A perpetrator, under Pennsylvania law can be a parent, a paramour of a parent, an individual (over the age of 14) living in the same home as the child, or a person responsible for the welfare of a child. This state seems to be doing many things right when it comes to child protection. We are encouraged in Kentucky that the attention the Herald-Leader has given to child abuse will produce a more favorable climate for children who need someone to advocate on their behalf.