WILKES-BARRE, PA – A group that helps abused children says reports of child abuse in Luzerne County have increased over the past year. A display at the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre is meant to raise awareness of the problem.
One by one, pinwheels were placed across the lawn in front of the Luzerne County Courthouse. Each pinwheel represents a child who was seen at the Child Advocacy Center in Wilkes-Barre last year.
The display numbers 439 pinwheels.
“It’s good that all the kids are remembered. It’s just sad that there’s so many,” said Wilkes-Barre Police Detective Ron Foy.
“It’s very sad and it’s kind of disheartening,” said Shannon Peduto, Child Advocacy Center Director.
The 439 pinwheels placed here break last year’s record by almost 100.
“We’re surpassing our numbers from last year and it’s only March,” Peduto said.
Officials can’t explain why the number of reported child abuse cases in Luzerne County is increasing.
It could be people are reporting child abuse more often than before or it could mean that abuse is happening more. Either way, it’s creating a bigger workload for police, and it often involves tough cases.
“They’re very difficult, especially when you have children of your own,” said Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Marcella Lendacky.
“People don’t realize how huge law enforcement is in the investigation process and what a support they are to the advocacy center and their families,” said advocacy center employee Tammy Panowicz.
What’s the most challenging part of the job for Detective Rob Foy?
“To actually listen to the kids and their stories and not want to take every one of them home.”
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the county hopes these flags help to spread awareness.
“The Child Advocacy Center is here to help families, to help children through this difficult process,” said Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis. “It’s a place that a child can feel comfortable and they don’t have to be re-victimized every time they’re interviewed.”
The pinwheel display at the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre will be in place throughout April.
Tarrant County dropped to No. 2 in Texas for Child Abuse
FORT WORTH, TX – Tarrant County dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 statewide in the number of confirmed child abuse cases from 2014 to 2015, but child and parenting advocates say there is nothing good about the news.
That’s because the number of abuse cases grew to 6,213, from 6,097, and the number of child fatalities increased to 16, from 11, according to a recent report from Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
“This is a devastating issue for our community that we simply must talk about,” Mayor Betsy Price told community leaders Monday during a Child Abuse Prevention Month kickoff event held at The Parenting Center in Fort Worth. “I’m not proud of the statistics on child abuse in our county.”
6,213 confirmed child abuse or neglect cases in Tarrant County in 2015.
Harris County led state with 6,360 confirmed child abuse and neglect cases in 2015, Dallas County was third with 5,847 and Bexar County had 4,941. Statewide, there were 66,721 cases.
In 2014, Tarrant County led Texas in the number of confirmed child abuse cases.
The Parenting Center is putting the spotlight on child abuse prevention in April with the 2016 Shades of Blue campaign. At Monday’s kickoff, blue pinwheels were dedicated to victims of child abuse and neglect. Community leaders dipped their hands in blue paint and put their handprints on a playground fence to mark their commitment to this fight.
PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS CAN GET ADVICE ABOUT RAISING CHILDREN FROM NOON TO 3 P.M. MONDAY – FRIDAY BY CALLING 817-332-6399.
“We feel that the various ways in which abuse or neglect might look like mirrors the way that different shades of blue might be,” said Paul Gravley, executive director at The Parenting Center. “Since blue is the color of Child Abuse Awareness Month we wanted to make sure that we represented that well.”
“We have a lot of work to do in order for that number to go to zero,” Gravley said.
Deaths increase by 45 percent
The 16 deaths attributed to child abuse in Tarrant County is 45 percent increase from 2014, according to the data. Tarrant County had the third highest number of child abuse/neglect related fatalities in Texas. Harris County led the state with 25 cases and Dallas County was second with 24 deaths.
Among high-profile fatalities in Tarrant County:
Kamron Taylor, 2, of Fort Worth, died from injuries that authorities said were inflicted by his father, 25-year-old Demarcus Trishun Taylor. He was arrested on a capital murder warrant.
Adrian Langlais, 2, or Fort Worth, died after suffering severe head trauma, including multiple skull fractures and bleeding on the brain. Christian Tyrrell, 22, the toddler’s mother’s boyfriend, was indicted on a capital murder charge in the case.
Lamont Bickerstaff, 10 months, of Arlington, died of “battered infant syndrome,” and his mother, Shakira Bickerstaff, 23, was arrested on a capital murder warrant after admitting to police that she shook her infant son, Lamont, and hit his head on a table. She initially told police that Lamont had fallen out of bed.
Parents are suffering from a lot of stress.
Suzanne Stevenson of the Parenting Center
The cases typify some of the local data on child abuse. For example, 79 percent of confirmed perpetrators are parents and 42 percent are between the ages of 26 and 35.
Price said perpetrators are often “very young adults’ who lack parenting skills. Stress and frustration can lead to abuse, she said. Parenting education is a critical piece of addressing abuse, Price said.
“They have to stop and think before they make a terrible mistake,” Price said.
Assistance available to parents
Suzanne Stevenson, family life education program director at The Parenting Center, said child abuse leaves a legacy of “hidden scars.” It often happens in secret and it cuts across demographic lines.
“Parents are suffering from a lot of stress,” she said, adding that The Parenting Center can help parents better handle the situations that can lead to abuse.
Gravley said there are many resources available for parents at The Parenting Center, including a free and confidential parenting advice phone line people can access from noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The center has offered classes throughout the county that cover issues that cover birth to college.
“If you have a kid, we have a class tailored specifically to that kid,” he said.
Andrea Rios, 32, went from loving aunt to loving parent of her niece and nephews when her sister passed away from an asthma complication almost three years ago. She needed help and began attending sessions at the center. The classes helped her cope with loss and become a stronger parent of little ones.
“It was hard to handle,” said Rios, who cares for children ages, 3, 4 and 5. “They came for their grief and my grief.”
Help for parents
Parents and caregivers can get advice about raising children from noon to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday by calling 817-332-6399.
Torrance Music Teacher Arrested for Allegedly Possessing Child Pornography
Torrance, CA – Following a tip from law enforcement in Brussels, Belgium, police on Friday arrested a Torrance middle school music teacher for allegedly possessing child pornography.
Eric James Mitchell, 36, surrendered to Torrance police officers, who pulled over his vehicle after he drove off the Calle Mayor Middle School campus. Although many of the region’s schools are closed for spring break, Torrance schools were in session this week.
The lead investigators are agents from the Homeland Security Investigations division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“We don’t have any indication at this time that this individual victimized any of his students, but that’s certainly a concern whenever we’re investigating a child pornography suspect who has close and ongoing contact with children,” special agent Joseph Macias said in a statement. “We’re still in the very initial stages of reviewing the evidence in this case and we encourage the public to come forward if they have further information.”
A search of Mitchell’s home resulted in the discovery of possible illegal images. Officers seized a desktop computer, external hard drives and other digital equipment.
The Torrance Unified School District placed Mitchell on unpaid administrative leave. He started with the school system in September 2014, and, according to the district, previously worked as a substitute teacher in Long Beach.
“I am working with the district administration to ensure our music classes continue without interruption,” said Principal Dave Mosely in a letter emailed Friday afternoon to parents.
Mitchell has no arrest record, according to a law enforcement source close to the investigation.
Late Friday afternoon, Mitchell was being held at the 77th Street Division of the Los Angeles Police Department in lieu of $20,000 bail.
“With the advent of the Internet, people who are interested in possessing and trading child pornography … have the ability to share those images around the world, said Virginia Kice, West Coast spokeswoman for the federal agency investigating the allegations.
“It’s not uncommon to get leads from foreign law enforcement.”
Members of the public with relevant information can contact the federal agency’s tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or complete the agency’s online tip form.
Ms Susan Shelley, in your attempt to help this Foster Family, you chose RACISM to get your reader’s attention and sympathetic to your cause. ALL CANADIAN, NORTH AMERICAN, AND SOUTH AMERICAN ABORIGINAL PEOPLE SACRIFICE THEIR CHILDREN TO BAAL. I choose not speak more on the subject of this IGNORANCE.
Ms Shelley, so many are INDIFFERENT to the very real RACISM Native People have endured for far too long. This instance is just another time when Laws are ignored when Native People are involved.
A young girl’s mother had passed away when the girl was very young, and she was tormented by the thought of grave robbers disturbing her mother’s grave. Years later, another Ms Shelley, Mary Shelly, wrote the story “Frankenstein”; she was the young girl, and grave robbing was a crime at that time as it is now.
In 2014, a Navajo Holy Warrior and three others traveled to Paris France, and were forced to buy back what was stolen from Navajo graves by GRAVE ROBBERS.
Ms Shelley, You speak of a flawed and unconstitutional Federal law, the Indian Child Welfare Act, yet you stand and defend a corrupt system that does so much more harm to Children and Families than the little bit of good it might do at times.
I ask you, Ms Shelley, WHY, why are so many Native American Children in DHHS custody, when Native Americans are the true minority, yet the percentage of Native Young ones are much more than even the whites, who are reported more and yet their Children are not stolen.
The stats are said to be about the same among all races, according to DHHS.
I say this is just a tiny part of the untruths used by this corrupt, out-of-control agency.
When Women and Young Girls are sexually assaulted, DHHS says it is Family or someone close and known over 80% of the time.
Ms Shelley, when taking about every race, this is tainted data! There are two races of people who have far different numbers, they are Native American and Alaskan Native. When these Women and Young Girls are sexually assaulted, it is Family, or someone close and known less than 30% of the time.
Ms Shelley, do you know what this means? This translates to over 70% of the time, other races come and sexually assault Our Women and Our Children!!!!
NOW, you were talking of FLAWED AND UNJUST LAWS, Native American Law Enforcement are only allowed to prosecute ones which live on the Rez, while very few are ever prosecuted by other Law Enforcement Agencies for what they have done to Native American Women and Children.
WASHINGTON – Migrant children in the government’s care fell prey to human trafficking after the Health and Human Services Department failed to protect them, according to a bipartisan congressional investigation released.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., stopped his line of questioning and left the hearing after saying that the witnesses were “the definition of non-cooperative.”
These CPS workers conspired against at least 4 different Families, and manufactured EVIDENCE that subjected these Families to illegal search and seizure. I believe we know just WHAT was illegally seized.
Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm
Laws intended to protect children from abuse and neglect are not being properly enforced, and the federal government is to blame. That’s according to a study by the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law, which says children are suffering as a result.
Elisa Weichel, a staff attorney with the Children’s Advocacy Institute, which published the report, says “When your data is flawed, every other part of your system is going to be flawed.”
Her group has found plenty of flaws. The institute conducted a three-year study and found that not one state has met all of the minimum child welfare standards set by the federal government. Those standards include such things as timely investigation of reports of child abuse. The institute blames Congress and the courts for failing to get involved.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which reviews state programs, declined to comment on the report.
But there’s broad agreement among those involved in child welfare that the system is in desperate need of repair.
When DHHS (CPS) is backed into a corner, they complain that they spend too much time filling out federal forms and trying to meet requirements that aren’t necessarily best for kids. Instead, he says, they want flexibility on how to spend federal funds.
As usual, even though MILLION$$$$ of taxpayer Dollars are grossly mismanaged and a major number of high-priority cases go uninvestigated, they are going to tell us how overworked they are and how they would know just how to use the money to better benefit Children and Families.