Tag Archives: Neglect

WI Parents Charged With Felony Neglect

.jpg photo of Anger Management graphic
Violence is out-of-control, and Domestic Violence can not be justified.

Seymour father, stepmother face neglect
charges, accused of locking kids in room,
limiting bathroom access

SEYMOUR. WI  –  The parents of children who told police they weren’t allowed to leave their bedroom for hours at a time or use the bathroom more than three times a day were charged with felony neglect.

The children, a 12-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl, who lived in a house with their father, stepmother and siblings in Seymour, also said they weren’t fed anything other than peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Outagamie County Circuit Court.

The windows in their bedroom were screwed shut and the door was equipped with an alarm that went off if it was opened, and the rest of the house was monitored by security cameras, the complaint says, and both children were punished if they tried to leave.

Gregory Hietpas, 33, and Elizabeth Hietpas, 33, both of Seymour, are each charged with two counts of chronic neglect of a child, a felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

A police officer for the Seymour Police Department spoke with both children at school.  The 12-year-old boy was “very soft spoken” and “appeared very tired and sounded depressed” as he spoke, the complaint says.

The boy told the officer he and his sister share a bedroom, where he is forced to sleep on the floor without a blanket or pillow and is only allowed to use the bathroom three times a day.

“If he has to use the bathroom more than that, he has to go inside his bedroom,” sometimes “in a bucket or on the floor,” the complaint says.  He also told the officer he is only given five minutes to take a bath and the door to the bathroom has to stay open.

The other children in the house are allowed out of their rooms and can leave the house, but he and his older sister are forced to stay in their bedroom, “unless they need to take the dogs outside or do chores,” the complaint says.

The boy described an incident in which he left his bedroom and “walked around the city,” the complaint says, and when he was found and returned home, his father, Gregory Hietpas, “screamed at him, hit him and threw him across the room.”

He also described how his stepmother, Elizabeth Hietpas, used the clock on the oven to time the five minutes given to him and his sister to make and eat their meals.

“When asked the last time he was given something other than a peanut butter sandwich to eat, he could not remember,” the complaint says.

The girl later told an interviewer at a child advocacy center that the alarm was placed on the door because they would sneak out and take food from the refrigerator, which she said her parents considered stealing, the complaint says.

When he was punished, the boy said he was forced to carry a weight over his head “and is not allowed to let it rest on his head or chest” and “if he lowered it, he has to start over,” the complaint says.  His sister described an incident in which the boy dropped a weight on his head and injured himself.

Both children also described being forced to write sentences hundreds of times as punishment for not listening to their parents.

The girl, who was also interviewed at school, told the officer that she and her brother are not allowed around the other children because “her parents think they are bad influences,” the complaint says.

The girl also said “there are days that she does not feel safe going home,” the complaint says, and that her father “hurts her when he is mad or frustrated.”  She also described days on weekends when she and her brother were forced to stand in their bedroom from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

When a police officer visited the house on Dec. 4, 2018, he found at least two large loaves of bread and large container of peanut butter, and saw the alarm attached to the bedroom door, the complaint says.

The officer asked whether the boy was able to use the bathroom at night, the complaint says, and Elizabeth Hietpas told him “no, not right now,” and explained that the boy runs off and “we don’t know what else to do.”

When asked why they hadn’t told anyone what was happening, the girl said “they were afraid of getting in trouble,” the complaint says, adding that “it is never good at home” and “it is painful to have to deal with it all of the time.”

The boy told the interviewer that when other people are around, his parents will be nice to him and his sister and “act like nothing is going on.”

When Elizabeth Hietpas was interviewed by police, she denied the two children weren’t allowed to use the bathroom when they wanted, the complaint says.  She also claimed they had stopped using weights as a punishment after the boy hurt himself.  But when asked about her honesty during the interview, Hietpas said she didn’t want talk more about the issues and accused an officer of “backing her into a corner.”

Gregory Hietpas told police that the boy and girl were forced to sleep in the same room because the two children would intentionally go to the bathroom in their pants, the complaint says, so they decided to put them in the same bedroom “so only one room was destroyed and not the whole house.”

Hietpas said both children could go to the bathroom whenever they wanted during the day, but not at night, when the alarm on their door is activated, the complaint says.

He also told police that when things started to “go south” at his house, he began to “tune things out and found things to do to get out of the house.”

NY Child Abuse Far Above US Average

.jpg photo of child abuse graphic
Stop Victimizing Children

Rate of Child Abuse in NY much higher
than national rate

ALBANY, NY  –  The rate for child abuse in N.Y. is nearly double the national rate, according to the 28th Child Mistreatment report and the NYS Kids’ Well-being Indicators Clearinghouse (NYSKWIC).  The Child Mistreatment report was released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)(CPS) .

Based on reports of child abuse/neglect in 2017, the rate of child abuse in N.Y. is 17.1 per 1,000 children according to NYSKWIC.  The national rate of child abuse for the same period in the U.S. was 9.1 per 1,000 children according to the HHS report.

The rate in the immediate Capital Region is also higher than the national average.  In some counties, the rate is almost quadruple the national average.  Saratoga County, while still higher than the national average, had the lowest rate in the area at 12.7, while Montgomery County had the highest at a staggering 34.3.

Locally, the highest number of child abuse/neglect cases were reported in Albany County (1,146) while the least number was reported in Greene County (203), according to NYSKWIC.

Younger children are more likely to die from abuse.  Children 3-years-old or younger are particularly more susceptible but children under the age of one were the most likely to die because of abuse or neglect, the HHS report indicated.

Suspected child abuse or neglect in N.Y. can be reported by calling 1-800-342-3720. Reports can also be made to Law Enforcement, school officials, social workers, child care workers or medical/hospital personnel according to the NYS Office of Children and Family Services website.

5 facts about Child Abuse in the U.S.

  • Approximately 10 – 13 Children die from child abuse every day.
  • 3.3 million cases of child abuse are reported every day.
  • In 2012, 82.2% of child abusers were between the ages of 18 and 44.
  • Boys and girls are victims of child abuse at almost the same rate.
  • 3 out of 4 Children who die from child abuse or neglect are below the age of 3.

TN Man Indicted For CA, Neglect, Domestic Violence, and Child Sex Abuse

.jpg photo of Foster Parent indicted for child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and child sexual battery
John Stanley Reece, 55, was indicted in Jackson County Criminal Court, TN

Foster parent indicted for Child Abuse

The father of a Jackson County family known for fostering children has been indicted for a host of child abuse charges.

John Stanley Reece, 55, was indicted in the Jackson County Criminal Court earlier this month for child abuse and neglect, aggravated domestic assault by strangulation and sexual battery by an authority figure.

The victim was a child in his care, according to the indictment.

Reece was arrested Nov. 4 with $25,000 bond, which he posted and has since been released.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will not confirm or deny if the children are still in the Reece’s care.

“Due to the ongoing nature of this investigation, we’re limited as to the information we can provide at this stage,” said TBI Public Information Officer Susan Niland.

The TBI began investigating Reece in September.

“During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that indicated the victim was a child in Reece’s care,” the TBI release states.

According to an article published in the Herald-Citizen in June, the Reece family has 11 children in their care — some are foster children while others were adopted by the family.

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.