Category Archives: Better Laws

Protesters are frustrated with child abuse plea deal

http://www.wbtv.com/story/28721966/protesters-are-frustrated-with-child-abuse-sentencing

Boy Chained To Porch, Dead Chicken Around His Neck

UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) – More than 50 people protested Saturday against a former Union County DSS supervisor’s plea deal. Demonstrators said her punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

The protesters say they are angry because Wanda Larson is scheduled to get out of jail just days after she pleaded guilty to child abuse charges.

Tuesday, Larson entered a plea on two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts in a Union County court. She admitted to her role in shackling an 11-year-old boy to a porch with a dead chicken around his neck.

A judge ruled that the majority of her 17-month sentencing was already served. She also received five years of probation for the other felony.

People like Jeff Gerber of the Justice For All Coalition marched outside of the Monroe County courthouse to voice their outrage.

“We strongly oppose the decision of the Union county district attorney to not only avoid trial, avoid putting these five children on the stand, but to offer a golden parachute of a plea deal to Ms. Larson in the first place,” said Gerber. “These children deserve justice.”

Larson and her boyfriend, Dorian Harper, were foster parents to a total of five children. Authorities say all the children were abused.
Harper who also accepted a plea deal was sentenced to six to ten years of jail time for child abuse and maiming.

Larson has already spent more than 500 days in jail, because of that time served Larson could be out of jail as soon as next week.

Before Larson’s arrest, her job was to protect children. She was a Union County Department of Social Services for more than a decade.

Governor calls for reform of child protection in Texas

Baby Justice now has the attention of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Justice Hull was just two months old when she died in January, allegedly drowned at the hands of a 14-year-old teenager taking care of her. She is one of three children to die since the start of the year while under the supervision of Child Protective Services. Nine children died last year.

The deaths were cited in a letter sent this week to former Judge John Specia, commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In it, the governor called for a “comprehensive reform of our state’s struggling foster care and child protection systems.”

He asked for $40 million more in new funding for the chronically underfunded and understaffed department, and increased oversight of child safety placement – situations when children are placed with friends or relatives.

“Abuse and neglect of our most vulnerable Texans – our children – is intolerable, and it is especially intolerable when it happens to the a child under the care umbrella of the state of Texas,” the governor wrote.

Many of the changes sought by Abbott are problems that surfaced in an Office of Child Safety report into Justice’s death released earlier this month.

Justice had been placed with a family friend shortly after birth. Twice in the weeks leading up to Justice’s January death, the family friend asked a CPS case worker for daycare assistance. The case worker denied the requests, saying that help could not be provided because the case was due to be closed.

The report revealed other problems, including the failure of caseworkers to meet timelines for face-to-face contacts and failing to offer services to the infant’s mother while she was pregnant, even though they knew she had admitted to substance abuse, had a history of domestic violence and untreated mental health issues.

In the letter, the governor called for enforcing mandatory face-to-face visits, better screening of those with whom children are placed, prohibiting the closing of a child safety placement case, such as Justice’s, without having “wrap around” services in place. He also called for a review of all child fatalities and critical injuries resulting in hospitalization.

The governor set a deadline of April 15 for a progress report.

Specia said in a statement that he looks “forward to working with him and with legislators to strengthen protections and ensure safety for children in families who are involved with Child Protective Services.”

Dimple Patel of Tex Protects knows some of the caseworkers involved in Justice’s case and says it’s been devastating for them.
“Having worked for nine years in the field.., there’s nothing more tragic than when a child dies on CPS’ watch,” Patel said.

The Office of Child Safety, which was recently created by Specia as part of a CPS reform effort, is also conducting investigations on two other child deaths involving CPS.

Codrick McCall, 4, had been placed with a friend of the family when he found a gun and accidentally shot himself in Houston on March 1. Audrey Torres, 3, died in a March 8 alcohol-related car crash in Amarillo while her family was being investigated and monitored by CPS at the time.

“There’s far too many children that are dying,” said J.J. Smith, founder of Rockwall-based Americans Ending Abuse. “There’s far too many children that are being injured.”

He says while many of the things that Abbott is calling for should already have been in place, he’s thrilled the governor has decided to take on the issue of child safety.

Smith says his group previously worked with Abbott to pass a 2011 law prohibiting parents and guardians from showing pornography to their children.

“Based on personal experience when we had this law passed in 2011, he really cared,” Smith said.

Abbot’s letter also called for specific changes with foster care, including improving performance evaluation and re-certification process for foster care contractors and establishing case worker protocols to educate foster children on how to report abuse and neglect.’

Carol Cook knows well the failings of CPS and the foster care system. She adopted 15-year-old Ke’onte after seeing him on News 8’s Wednesday’s Child.

While in foster care, he was placed in a psychiatric hospital three times and overmedicated, she said. She says within weeks of Ke’onte coming to live with them, he was off the medications. She says he’s now doing well in school and an active, heavy teen-ager.

“If we actually follow through with them, I think it would be really great,” Cook said. “I know way too many children that have been into the system my son included that just kind of fell through the cracks.”

Child Abuse reports in Erie County PA on the rise

Reports of suspected child abuse in Erie County on the rise

Erie County, Pennsylvania – On the morning of March 13, Erie County Detective Sgt. Joseph Spusta and a law enforcement colleague arrested two former Corry residents at their home in Warren.

Spusta charged Wendell T. Mulkey with homicide, alleging the 26-year-old repeatedly shook and squeezed his 2-month-old daughter, who died of abusive head trauma. Mulkey is in prison without bond. Spusta also arrested the infant’s mother, Miranda C. Fay, who remains jailed on two felony counts of child endangerment. Investigators say Fay, 21, failed to seek medical help for the baby after witnessing the suspected abuse the child suffered.

Spusta has been investigating local child abuse cases since 1998, and he’s well aware the numbers are sharply on the rise.
Reports of suspected child abuse made to the Erie County Office of Children and Youth soared 27 percent in 2014, up to 2,456 from 1,926 in 2013.

That trend has continued this year — suspected child abuse reports to OCY rose 40 percent in January compared with January 2014, and 25 percent in February compared with February 2014 — with officials believing the sustained spike coincides with a new state law that went into effect on Jan. 1, which expanded the definition of who is mandated to report suspected child abuse.

University and college staff, coroners, funeral directors and librarians in Pennsylvania, for example, are now required to report suspected child abuse, said Lana Rees, director of OCY, 154 W. Ninth St.

“If you have a legitimate suspicion of a child being abused, report it,” said Spusta, a law enforcement liaison between the District Attorney’s Office and the Bradley H. Foulk Children’s Advocacy Center of Erie County.

“Kids are often not in the position where they can report abuse themselves,” Spusta added. “But the person witnessing it, or suspecting it, can step up and break the cycle of abuse in that child’s life by getting the authorities involved.”

Michael Gaines, executive director of the Foulk Center, 1334 W. 38th St., said his organization handled about 250 cases of child abuse when it was founded in 2011.

The center currently handles between 300 and 400 cases annually.

Victims of child abuse are referred to the center by OCY, the District Attorney’s Office, or local law enforcement.

Child abuse prevention begins with a parent or guardian being able to handle stress and frustrations, among other things, Gaines added.

“People get on edge, something sets them off, and they go. If that’s a trigger, if a child won’t stop crying, let’s say, and you’re at your wit’s end, put the child down and walk away,” Gaines said. “You need to think about it before it happens and have a strategy, and not revert to a knee-jerk reaction. You need to have a constructive, positive way to deal with it, instead of resorting to instinct.”

Mothers of newborns cannot leave a local hospital without receiving a pamphlet on shaken baby syndrome and watching a short video on how to deal with a crying, fussing child, Saint Vincent Hospital officials said. Fathers of those newborns also are strongly encouraged to watch the video and read the pamphlet.

“Child abuse is more pervasive than people believe,” said Wayne Jones, D.O., Saint Vincent’s medical director of emergency medicine.

When a child arrives at Saint Vincent as a victim of suspected physical abuse, doctors and nurses look for a few things in their examination, Jones said. They check for any recurrent patterns for the same kind of injury, and question the parents or guardians to see if the nature of the injury is more abuse than accidental.

“We look for bruises in unusual areas, like the child’s back, or the back of their legs,” Jones said. “If we suspect abuse, we’re required to report it to OCY.”

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the timing, according to local child protective services officials, could not be better when it comes to awareness.

In a four-day span this month, five people in Erie County were charged with child abuse in three separate cases, including the charges against Mulkey and Fay.

The United Way of Erie County on Wednesday is sponsoring a child abuse awareness event in downtown Erie’s Perry Square starting at 11 a.m.

Members of the county’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force, a group of 31 agencies working to prevent child abuse, will be in attendance.

The event will include planting blue and silver pinwheels, a national awareness activity designed to bring communities together to recognize the continued need for child abuse prevention.

“There is nothing more important than celebrating our children and supporting their physical and emotional health and well-being,” said Kathleen Patterson, a Gannon University assistant professor and a coordinator of the local task force.

The new state child protective services law that went into effect Jan. 1 stems from the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse child molestation scandal out of Pennsylvania State University.

The law expanded the pool of professionals with frequent interaction with children who are now mandated to report suspected child abuse, a group that already included day-care providers, teachers, therapists, doctors and nurses, Rees said.

Rees added that the Erie Family Center for Child Development, 913 Payne Ave., offers classes and training to encourage proper parenting techniques to the general public.

Who’s Team are You on: The Cronys’ or Our Children’s

THE TIME IS GETTING SHORT, WE NEED EVERYONE WHO CARES ABOUT OUR CHILDREN TO SIGN THIS PETITION.

We need to make sure this HB PASSES, because this is just the 1st State out of EVERY STATE IN OUR COUNTRY.

This petition is in dire need of as many signatures as possible.

We want everyone to bear in mind that this is just the first state. If we hope to affect change in Child Abuse Laws, this is the head of the line.

NOT IN MY WORLD!!!!

Seven months ago, if anyone of you had said “Our Children are totally unprotected and alone”, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Today, after exposing THE TRUTH of how a group of evil people manipulated and betrayed the trust of WE THE PEOPLE, there is only one way to insure that the right thing is done in Georgia now.

A show of solidarity, in the form of a petition, not only documents the expectations of WE THE PEOPLE, it serves notice that WE THE PEOPLE are watching closely.

Alan Fountain
Shared publicly  on Google – 3:25 AM

Please share this petition to Help Hidden Predator Act of GA maintain Citizen Strong Representation as it heads to Senate Judiciary Committee for testimony and any amendments. We need a voice to not have a biased Bill. Please sign ASAP. Thank you Friends.

Please Support Alan Fountain of GA Families for…

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31st International Symposium on Child Abuse underway at VBC

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – They’ve spent their careers chasing down the worst society has to offer, interviewing the most vulnerable of victims and working to stop the heartbreak of child abuse.

For one week each year, those involved in the various fields of child abuse and prevention are invited to Huntsville for an international symposium hosted by the National Children’s Advocacy Center.

This year, nearly 1,300 experts and advocates from more than a dozen countries are in attendance.

Through dozens of workshops and presentations, they’ll share their knowledge in the hopes of improving their own agencies’ responses to abuse.

The 31st International Symposium on Child Abuse began Monday with a series of pre-conference sessions.

On Tuesday, Kevin Mulcahy will officially open the event, sharing his experiences as both a child abuse victim and prosecutor.
Mulcahy currently serves as Chief of the General Crimes Unit for the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Michigan.

According to organizers, “the 31st International Symposium on Child Abuse is one of the few conferences that addresses all aspects of child mistreatment.”

The International Symposium on Child Abuse is an informative and innovative multidisciplinary conference which offers more than 130 workshops presented by internationally recognized experts from all facets of the child maltreatment field. Professionals receive practical instruction, the latest research and information, and the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills and knowledge.

This is one of the few conferences that addresses all aspects of child maltreatment, including but not limited to physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to violence, poly victimization, exploitation, intervention, trafficking, and prevention.

The International Symposium on Child Abuse is a premiere conference that provides expert training and numerous networking opportunities to professionals in the child maltreatment field.