CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA – The second of twin infants found unresponsive in a vehicle Thursday has died, according to police in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
The 5-month-old twins were found unresponsive around 2:30 p.m. in an SUV in the 2400 block of Alfalfa Lane near Jefferson Davis Highway, according to WTVR.
Police, along with Chesterfield County Fire and EMS responded to the scene and transported the children to Chippenham Hospital.
One of the children was pronounced dead at the hospital Thursday afternoon. The other child died several hours later.
The children, according to neighbors were a boy and a girl.
A woman who lives a few doors down defended the children’s parents through tears.
“They go to work, they come home to their kids. They’re not any trouble, they’re awesome,” the woman, who declined to be identified, said.
“It’s tragic what happened, I don’t even know how to help them with their pain. It was certainly not an intentionally negligent act, it was a horrific mistake that can never be erased,” said another neighbor, Donna Gusti, who also works with both parents at a nearby Waffle House.
The woman who lives next door to the family said the wife was at work Thursday afternoon when she called her.
“His wife called me at 2 p.m. to wake him up to come and get her from work and that’s when everything happened,” the neighbor said. “That’s when he found the babies in the car.”
She believes the husband just forgot the babies remained in the car when he got home from dropping his wife off at work.
Oklahoma Senate approves bill which would
require ‘immediate’ reporting of Child Abuse
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday approved a bill Thursday which would modify the requirements for reporting child abuse.
House Bill 2259 which would require individuals, especially educators, to report suspected child abuse or neglect of those 17 years old and younger “immediately” to the DHS Child Abuse Hotline and those 18 years or older to law enforcement.
The bill modifies the current law, which says suspected abuse must be reported “promptly.”
“Current law advises people to report suspected abuse and neglect ‘promptly’ but this term is obviously getting misinterpreted as many cases aren’t being reported for several days or weeks after it’s discovered,” said Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee. “As a former educator, I’m glad that the bill specifically requires teachers to report suspected abuse and neglect as these are the people who spend the most time with these kids and can recognize changes in behavior or see evidence of abuse. For most kids, schools are safe zones and they trust their teachers and often open up about violence in their home. Hopefully, this change will help protect more of Oklahomans children and get them away from bad situations.”
Report: Kentucky Child Abuse rate second
highest in the nation
Kentucky’s 2016 child abuse rate — more than double the national average — was the second highest rate in the nation.
Almost 20 of every 1,000 children in the state were abused, according to the “Child Maltreatment 2016” report released recently by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Children’s Bureau.
The reported didn’t come as a surprise to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Madison County executive director Victoria Benge, who said Kentucky always is at the top of the nation in child abuse rates.
Benge said child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level. In most cases, it isn’t one single circumstance that leads to abuse, she said.
Typically, it’s a combination of factors that cause high stress levels in the family, which could include a lack of education, money troubles, or a variety of other stressors. Drug abuse is a big determinant.
Family court judge for Madison and Clark counties Nora J. Shepherd said drugs are involved in almost every case she handles in family court.
The drug epidemic has drastically increased the case load in family court, Shepherd said.
Continual budget cuts have also put a strain on the system in place to protect children, she added.
Lack of support for social workers has resulted in lots of turnover and, now, state workers including child protection workers are looking at drastic changes to their pensions, leading some to leave.
Funding for Comprehensive Care, which provides counseling services, has been in decline for years, Shepherd said. People who need mental health services can’t get help.
When it comes to finding abuse and stopping it, everyone can play a role, Benge said.
In fact, anyone in Kentucky who suspects a child is being abused is required to report it by law.
In cases where people are suspicious but aren’t sure, they should make the call, she said.
“I think you can never be too cautious,” she said. “You’re better to be safe than sorry.”
“If you see something, you have to call,” she said. “You could be part of saving a child’s life.”
Learning the TEN-4 bruising rule can help people identify possible abuse, according to a press release from Norton’s Children’s Hospital. The rule says that children under 4 should not have bruising on their torso, ears or neck.
It’s also important for people to help stressed parents, maybe by offering to babysit for a while or offering to run an errand, the hospital release states. People can help prevent abuse also by simply de-stressing a situation with a statement such as “I remember when my child acted like that.”
Madison County has a number of organizations working on behalf of children, Benge said.
CASA uses community trained volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children within the family court system. The organization’s main goal, Benge said, is to break the cycle of abuse.
Too often, children in the court system have people coming in and out of their lives.
“It’s so important for these children to have a person who stays with them,” Benge said.
Another Madison County organization that is instrumental in the fight against child abuse and neglect is the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
“They do fantastic work,” Benge said.
The social workers with CHFS investigate claims of abuse and neglect, and make referrals on the best course of action for the affected children.
The county attorney’s office prosecutes those accused of abuse or neglect, Shepherd said. Madison County assistant county attorney Jubal Miller has worked on family court cases for more than 20 years. Deputy circuit clerk Debbie Agee also has worked in the court for decades.
The HANDS program through the Madison County Health Department is another resource for families of young children. HANDS is a home visitation program that assists during their child’s first two years of life. A public health nurse and public health home visitors visit the home to introduce parenting skill development in areas such as recognizing babies’ needs and making the home safe.
Benge urges parents who feel overwhelmed to speak up.
“Just ask for help,” she said. “The state is very willing to help.”
According to Norton Children’s Hospital, parents on edge should realize it’s OK to step away for a moment and take a few deep breaths, or listen to a favorite song or call a friend. It’s important to keep a list of friends or family members to call for support.
Kentucky ranked far better in the report in the number of children (15) who died as a result of abuse in 2016; the state ranked 29th in the country. There were 1,750 deaths nationwide, according to the report.
The state saw a total of 102,990 referrals to child protective services in 2016, according to the report. About half (50.4 percent) resulted in reports.
In 2017, 509 children in Madison County were abused or neglected, according to CASA. A pinwheel for each was planted Friday outside the Madison County Courthouse as part of the annual child abuse awareness event put on by CASA and the Department for Community Based Services. The event is held each year in April, Child Abuse Awareness Month.
SAPD, BCSO team up to combat Child Abuse during prevention month
SAN ANTONIO, TX – Abuse to one child is too many. That’s the message from Wednesday morning’s Blue Breakfast hosted by St. Jude’s Ranch for Children to raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month this April.
Area leaders and law enforcement attended and acted as the voice for the many neglected and abused children across the county.
San Antonio Police Department Chief William McManus and Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar were some of those speaking at the Blue Breakfast.
Salazar said they can’t just arrest the problem away. The root of the solution lies within educating the community.
“Educating the public on what their responsibility is as far as notifying authorities if they see abuse,” Salazar said. “Letting neighbors know it’s not just OK but many times you are legally bound to report abuse if you see it.”
Organizers with St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a refuge for hundreds of abused children, said there are other ways you can do your part.
Tara Roussett, CEO of SJRC, said they are in need of foster families, financial support and mentors. They need people who are willing to connect with children.
Expert: “Dramatic” increase in Child Abuse cases in southeast Alaska
JUNEAU, AK – Social workers’ caseloads for child neglect and abuse have dramatically increased in southeast Alaska.
Erin Walker-Tolles, executive director of Catholic Community Service in Juneau, testified before the House Finance Committee earlier this month, KTOO Public Media of Juneau reported on Sunday.
Walker-Tolles asked for more funding to deal with a 59 percent increase in referrals to her nonprofit’s child advocacy center, which deals with cases of children who might be victims of abuse and neglect across the southeast. The number of children referred to the center went up from 97 in 2016 to 154 last year.
“It’s dramatic, it’s pervasive and, from what we’ve heard from the other CACs, it is statewide,” Walker-Tolles said.
Program Manager Susan Loseby said she’s not sure what caused the increase.
“I would hope that more kids aren’t being abused,” she said. “It’s just that more people are reporting what they suspect as abuse.”
Either way, the center needs more workers, Loseby said.
The center has three full-time employees and three on-call nurses who perform medical examinations. Walker-Tolles and Loseby are asking for $77,000 to hire and train an additional staff member.
“Ethically it’s the right thing to do,” Walker-Tolles said. “And if you want to talk about money, honestly it’s a cost-savings to the entire community and the state. If these kids are able to heal, be safe, grow up, go to college or school or find a vocation that inspires them and contribute to the economy, instead of falling into despair, failing school, not having job opportunities. The outcomes can be pretty grim.”
Loseby said working with children who have been abused and even raped takes a significant toll on staff, especially when they’re constantly on call.
“It’s a lot to digest, hearing all of the disclosures that children are making and then working with the families who are also in trauma,” she said. “It has, of course, increased the hours that we work, it has decreased the time that we can take off to heal and get the respite that we all need.”