Category Archives: Neglect

OK Seeing Less Severe Abuse While CA, Neglect Increasing

.jpg photo of children receiving child abuse prevention training
Students at Parkview Elementary in the Mid-Del School District roar during a child prevention lesson put on by The Care Center on Sept. 17.

The Good, the Bad and the Puzzling in
Child Maltreatment Counts

Each year, the Oklahoma agency that tracks and investigates abuse and neglect of children issues a detailed statistical report.

Buried in all of the numbers is what appears to be a hopeful trend.

During the past six years, the number of child abuse cases – the most severe form of child maltreatment – has plummeted by more than 50 percent, to 1,407 last year.

At the same time, another measure of how Oklahoma treats its children has risen to alarming levels.  During the same period, the number of substantiated cases of child neglect has tripled, to 13,394.  That drove an overall 18% increase in the number of cases of abuse, neglect or both since fiscal year 2012, a data analysis by Oklahoma Watch found.

But why would neglect soar and abuse plummet?

Human Services Department officials say they don’t know why, except mainly to suggest that when it comes to child neglect, citizens and professionals who deal with children have become better educated about recognizing the problem, which is defined more broadly than abuse, and are more inclined to report suspected cases.

No one at DHS or among child advocacy groups seems to be celebrating.  Some advocates question whether the statistics are accurate and, as they did at a recent legislative hearing, continue to push for more funding to prevent and respond to both abuse and neglect.

“Why overall it (abuse) keeps going down, I don’t know,” said Debi Knecht, DHS deputy director of child welfare programs.  “I would like to think society just evolves and stops abusing kids, but I don’t know why that is just in one particular area.”

Among the thousands of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect each year, a large majority involve only neglect.  In fiscal 2018, neglect cases made up 86% of the total 15,591 cases, compared with 9% for abuse and 7% for both abuse and neglect.

The most common types of abuse are a threat of harm, such as a child who is in danger of abuse because of their proximity to physical violence; beating or hitting by hand, and beating or hitting with an instrument.

The most common types of neglect are threat of harm, which is when a child faces a direct threat from their environment, such as a home where drug use is present; exposure to domestic violence, and failure to protect a child.

Knecht credits most of the increase in cases of child neglect to statewide efforts to teach law enforcement, teachers and others who work with kids how to recognize and report the problem.  Education drives up the number of reports that come into the agency, which leads to more substantiated reports, she said.

.jpg photo of children receiving child abuse prevention training
Shelby Lynch, education manager at The Care Center, asks students to raise their hands if they know three adults they can talk to “no matter what.” The question is part of a child abuse prevention training called Roar.

Knecht said the opioid epidemic and popularity of methamphetamine have also contributed to growing reports of neglect that involve substance abuse.

Knecht said the increase in neglect cases also could mean the agency is taking action earlier and thus preventing physical abuse.  Another contributing factor could be a cultural shift that has caused fewer parents to spank their children, she said.

But Knecht acknowledged it is difficult on the surface to reconcile the divergent trends.  An increase in reporting would more likely point to an increase in substantiated abuse, not a decrease, as it did with neglect cases, she said.

Child advocates question the accuracy of the data, saying the number of child abuse cases they see has remained steady or even increased over the past several years.

Dr. Ryan Brown, a child-abuse pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, said he has seen more cases of child abuse in recent years, not fewer.

“No matter what the DHS numbers say, those physical abuse numbers are not going down,” Brown said.

National reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also show an increase in children suffering from abuse and neglect combined.

Mary Abbott Children’s House conducts forensic interviews of children ages 3 to 18 for criminal investigations in Cleveland, Garvin and McClain counties and surrounding areas.  Interviewer Christi Cornett said the organization interviews around 480 children per year, and that number has remained steady since at least 2013.

Joe Dorman, CEO of the the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, and Nellie Kelly, executive director of the Child Protection Coalition, said the reported drop in child abuse cases contradicts what they see every day.

“I want to believe we’re getting better, but I find it hard to believe,” Dorman said.

Reporting Abuse and Neglect:  All Oklahomans 18 or older are required to report child abuse or neglect.  Reports can be made 24 hours a day, any day, to the state Department of Human Services at 1-800-522-3511.

VA Concerned With Child Abuse And Neglect Numbers

.jpg photo of news graphic of child abuse and neglect deaths
Child deaths from abuse and neglect are on the rise in VA.

Hampton Roads leads region in Child Abuse and Neglect deaths

HAMPTON ROADS, VA  –  Some of the most vulnerable people in our community are dying at an alarming rate.

Child deaths from abuse and neglect are on the rise, and local groups are working to educate parents and make everyone a partner in prevention.

The Eastern Region Child Fatality Review Team says the rate of kids dying from child abuse and neglect in this area is the second-highest in the state — which is why is they’re working to increase awareness of the issue.

“So many of these deaths are accidental, but some of them are intentional and we have to worry about those, too.  Some people just aren’t safe parents, and we need to protect children from those parents as well,” said committee member Betty Wade Coyle.

The committee says 14 children in Hampton Roads died from abuse or neglect last year.  Five of those children were infants who never reached their first birthday, and five more victims were 3 years old or younger.

The team reviewed 49 cases of abuse or neglect that were investigated by local agencies last year, including the including the death of 5-year-old Levi Robertson in Isle of Wight.

His mother and her boyfriend were found guilty of manslaughter after the child was found unresponsive in January.

“Our number seems high compared to the rest of the state, but that’s because, in some ways, we feel it’s because we’re counting better than other areas,” explained Coyle.

Coyle says the three factors that contribute to the largest number of cases are substance abuse, mental illness and domestic abuse.

The committee says children are also dying in unsafe sleep environments.
Coyle says the safest way for babies to sleep is “alone, on their back, in a crib.”

Poverty is an underlying issue, but more can be done to help parents, like providing safe housing options and home visiting programs for families who are high-risk.

Day Care Co-Owner Charged In Baby’s Death

.jpg photo of Child Vehicular Heatstroke graphic
#HotVehicles Are Not #BabySitters

Baby dies after being left in day care van
for hours

JACKSONVILLE, FL  –  After a 4-month-old baby found unconscious Wednesday afternoon in a van at a Westside day care died, the co-owner of the center was arrested, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.

Darryl Ewing, 56, was booked into the Duval County jail at 8:18 p.m. on a charge of child neglect, according to online jail records.

Police said the infant girl was found still in a child safety seat inside the van at Ewing’s Love and Hope Preschool on Lenox Avenue about 1 p.m, nearly five hours after the vehicle used to pick up children was parked out front.

Jacksonville firefighters tried to revive the baby and took her to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, but the child could not be saved.

“Tragically, today a family has just been notified of the gut-wrenching loss of their precious baby girl,” Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell said.  “DCF immediately opened a joint child death and child care licensing investigation in coordination with law enforcement.  We will continue to support this family as they mourn the loss of their baby girl.”

Police said the center cares for about 14 children and no other children were injured.

Investigators said they learned Darryl Ewing was the driver of the day care van that picked up the infant and other children earlier Wednesday morning and no other employees were on the van.  According to detectives, the van arrived at the day care about 8:25 a.m., and children were off-loaded and taken into the center.

Investigators said Darryl Ewing then parked the van in front of the day care and left the vehicle unattended with the 4-month-old still strapped in her car seat in the third row of the van.

At 1:03 p.m., according to the Sheriff’s Office, the infant’s mother called to make after-school arrangements for all of her children and it was discovered the baby had never been checked into the day care.  Police said day care employees went to the van and discovered the infant still strapped in her child seat, unresponsive, and called emergency services.

Throughout the afternoon, the building was surrounded by police tape, officers, evidence technicians and homicide detectives, including the JSO chief of investigations.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, further investigation revealed that Darryl Ewing was responsible for maintaining a separate driver’s log documenting all children that are placed onto the van, which was separate from the parental log signed by parents. Detectives viewed the driver’s log, which they said showed Darryl Ewing had logged in two of the infant’s siblings, but not the infant.

Police said they learned, based on interviews with other day care center employees, that it is the van driver’s responsibility to check and make sure children are offloaded from the van at the day care center.

“It was determined the suspect’s actions (and lack thereof) failed to provide the victim with the necessary supervision and provide services to protect the victim’s physical health, all which was essential to the victim’s well-being and contributed to the death of the victim,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Ewing refused to talk with detectives when he was taken to the police station to be interviewed and that’s when he was arrested.  Police identified him as the co-owner of the day care center, though the day care’s website lists Darryl Ewing as the director.

Duval County jail records show he has been arrested at least four previous times.

The state said will be immediately suspending the day care center’s license because it wasn’t aware children were being transported.

While the center has a valid license with DCF since 2016 and inspectors have not found any Class I violations in its quarterly inspections, the agency said it didn’t know the day care center was transporting children, so it never monitored transportation standards.

The state said parents have already been contacted to let them know the center’s license is being pulled.

The other owner of the business, Gloryian Ewing was arrested 18 months ago on two counts of child abuse.  While those charges involved her own teenage children — police said they were beaten with an extension cord — she was arrested at the day care center in December 2017.

After Gloryian Ewing, 51, completed a pretrial intervention, the charges were dropped.

DCF records show the center’s license was not affected by the owner’s legal troubles.  The center had no violations in its last three quarterly inspections by the DCF — most recently on April 15.

The last time inspectors found any issues at the facility was last July when the report noted a lack of documentation of worker training and outdoor equipment, and field trip forms were not available for review.  Since the center has been open, the facility has received two Class II and 13 Class II violations.

News4Jax meteorologists estimated that the temperature inside an enclosed vehicle parked in the sun at midday Wednesday could have reached 123 degrees.

A woman who lives in the neighborhood didn’t want to give her name but said her children used to attend this day care center and her heart breaks for the baby’s family.

“Luckily they were grade-school age, but they were left on that same day care van,” the woman told News4Jax.  “It’s sad. I just wish that day care was shut down.  It really, it’s not the best day care.”

Another woman who works at a different child care center calls it a tragedy.

“It’s just heartbreaking right now to know that a child has lost its life,” Lisa Brown said. “Just coming to day care and being taken care of and not returning home.  I think about my own grandkids.”

The Sheriff’s Office and DCF continue to investigate the infant’s death.

NM Wants Tougher Child Abuse Laws

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic from New Mexico
Child Abuse Advocates believe tougher laws would be a better deterrent.

Advocates organize March Against
Child Abuse

ALBUQUERQUE, NM  –  A child that died on Tuesday had not even seen their first birthday.  The person who reported the death claimed the baby drowned, according to the Albuquerque Police Department.

They have not yet said how the baby died, but that the circumstances are suspicious.

The community is hurting — wanting to know exactly what happened or if someone is to blame.  That will all come out in the investigation, according to APD.

As police continue to investigate, the community is coming together to say enough is enough.

“Burying a child is the worst nightmare anyone can go through and then at the hands of a parent, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever the case may be, it’s a nightmare,” said Veronica Rael-Garcia, an advocate whose daughter was killed in a road rage shooting.

Rael-Garcia knows that hole left behind after a child dies.  Her daughter, Lilly, was killed in a road rage shooting when she was just four.  It was a case that shook the community.

“The community is upset, they’re scared, they want answers,” said Crystal Gutierrez-Baca, an advocate with New Mexicans Against Child Abuse.  “So now more than ever we need the community to join us.”

Crystal Gutierrez-Baca is teaming up with Rael-Garcia to be the voice for those children.  The goal is that other people and leaders from around our state start making a change.

“There should be programs out there in the city and the state so that if somebody feels overwhelmed they’re able to reach out,” said Rael-Garcia.  “I wholeheartedly believe if we had tougher laws that may be something that does deter it.  Who knows?”

Gutierrez-Baca and Rael-Garcia said the conversation needs to start now.  In recognition of Child Abuse Awareness Month, they’re putting together the third annual March Against Child Abuse this Saturday.  It will be at the Bataan Memorial Park from noon to 3 p.m.

Domestic Violence Call Leads Officers To “Absolutely Disgusting Child Abuse Case”

Children found locked in dog cage, living
in deplorable conditions, Wise County
deputies say

RHOME, TX  –  A father and mother of four children are facing charges after deputies discovered a horrific scene of child abuse and neglect at a home Tuesday morning.

.jpg photo of mother of children found to be abused and neglected.
Paige Isabow Harkings, 24

According to Wise County deputies, they received a call at about 7:20 a.m. on a report of domestic violence at a house off County Road 4930 near Newark, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth.

Andrew Fabila and Paige Harkings face four charges of child endangerment, authorities said.

.jpg photo of father of one of the children found to be abused and neglected.
Andrew Joseph Fabila, 24

When deputies arrived at the home, they found cuts to the Fabila’s face and heard children inside a barn, according to Sheriff Lane Akin, with the Wise County Sheriff’s Department.

Four children were found inside the barn:  a 4-year-old girl and three boys, ages 5, 3 and 1, Akin said.

The oldest two children were locked in a dog kennel measuring about 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet, he said.  The other two were found mostly unclothed on the floor of the barn, covered in urine and feces, Akin said.

Akin said it was the worst child-abuse case he’d seen during his 44 years in law enforcement.

“I’ve not worked one where children are locked inside a dog kennel, and I find that absolutely disgusting,” he said.

Inside the barn, the space was “crudely fashioned” into rooms to create some sort of living quarters, Akin said.

“There was plenty of food inside the barn, but the refrigerator and the cabinets had been locked so the kids could not get in to get food,” the sheriff said.

The children were hungry and thirsty when deputies found them, so authorities gave them food and water before they were taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.  Akin said he saw no obvious injuries to the children before they were hospitalized.

The children were released from the hospital Tuesday evening and will be placed in foster care, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said.

Deputies noticed feces scattered throughout the house.

Fabila was sent to the hospital with cuts.  Harkins also faces a family violence charge.

The couple had been staying with the paternal grandparents’ house.  Texas Child Protective Services confirmed that they had previous contact with the family, but would not elaborate.

Multiple agencies are investigating.