Tag Archives: Physical Abuse

Texans Stand Behind A Sheriff With Heart

.jpg photo of Harris County Sheriff's Office Badge
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is urging adults to to keep an eye out for signs of abuse.

Harris County Sheriff: ‘We cannot let
a health pandemic become a
Child Abuse pandemic!’

HOUSTON, TX  –  With children spending all their time at home, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is urging adults to be more vigilant about the children around them and to keep an eye out for signs of abuse.

“The number one reporters of child abuse are teachers,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wrote in a tweet.  “But kids aren’t seeing them right now.  Neighbors and other family members, PLEASE pay close attention.”

We cannot let a health pandemic become a child abuse pandemic!  The number one reporters of child abuse are teachers, but kids aren’t seeing them right now.  Neighbors and other family members, PLEASE pay close attention.  Learn more at @Childhelp & the National Child Abuse Hotline

— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) March 23, 2020

“It’s the time to be proactive (about child abuse) because we may be in this for the long haul,” Gonzalez told KPRC 2 in an interview.

“If you hear what sounds like painful screaming, things like that, that would be a red flag,” Gonzalez said.  “You see clear bruising or things like that, anything like that… make sure and call the authorities and let us know, because we need to know.”

The Texas Department of Family Services offers educational videos and other materials to support parents and neighbors on its website.

“Right now the children aren’t seeing their teachers,” Gonzalez said.  “It behooves all of us to step up, as neighbors, as family members, and keep a close eye, and make sure that we’re paying attention to anything out of the ordinary.”

Suspected Child Abuse can be reported to local authorities, or using the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

If you see or suspect Child Abuse, please call 911 immediately!

Good Information And For My Doubters

.jpg photo graphic included with Mayo Clinic article
How Medical Professionals should address Child Physical Abuse.

Medical Professionals – Trauma: How to address Child Physical Abuse

Arne H. Graff, M.D., is the division chair of Child Abuse Pediatrics at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester, Minnesota.  His desire is to equip providers for potential child physical abuse (CPA) cases, helping them feel as comfortable as possible and removing the fear of reporting.  He offers perspective on CPA and what trauma professionals’ responsibilities are in this scenario.

How did you get into the child abuse field?

While I was working in North Dakota, a physician at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo talked me into working with him in a volunteer clinic.  While there, I ran into enough child abuse cases that I realized I needed to get out of it or get better.  So I did a fellowship in child abuse pediatrics.

Is child abuse common in Minnesota?

Around 84,000 reported cases of child maltreatment are reported each year in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services and documented in the Child Maltreatment Report for 2017.   Minnesota has as high an incidence as some other states, like California, but doesn’t see as large of numbers due to population differences between Minnesota and the other states.

There are about 1,500 identified maltreatment deaths in Minnesota each year, but this is assumed underreported due to the difficulty in identifying many of the deaths as clearly caused by maltreatment.  In Rochester, Minnesota, and the immediate region, we have around 400 reported maltreatment cases each year.

(1,500÷365=4.1 Child Maltreatment deaths per day just in Minnesota, so how can so many distort the numbers by saying there has ever been 5 Child Maltreatment deaths each day in the last 100 years and possibly the last 150 years)

Which children are at highest risk of abuse?

A young child or infant is at highest risk.

Are any children overlooked for abuse?

Yes — teenagers.  I don’t want us as providers to just focus on little kids.  Teens have a similar CPA pattern as other children.  It’s important you consider whether abuse is occurring if you see a 15-year-old with an injury that doesn’t align with the history. Don’t assume because they’re teenagers, they aren’t experiencing abuse.

Who abuses children?

People who have access to children hurt children: parents, child care providers, grandparents and school personnel.  Anyone has the capacity to hurt children.

That said, it’s important to know that 82% of abusers are ages 18 to 44, and 80% of CPA is inflicted by parents, according to data from Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Is denial of mechanism of injury common in these cases?  If so, any advice?

Since we don’t know how often abuse is missed, we can’t guess at how often it’s denied.  Personal experience is that even with serious injuries, denial is common. Considering that one of the caregivers may not have knowledge of events that occurred with his or her partner, denial can be a normal answer.  Therefore, asking about domestic as well as pet violence is important, and also interviewing caregivers separately.  By emphasizing mandated reporting requirements and indicating concern about their child, we hopefully will maintain a working relationship with the family.

Any tips for assessing a child’s injury?

Every injury presented must be consistent with the child’s medical history and developmental ability.  If it doesn’t line up, ask why.  It doesn’t mean there’s abuse occurring, but it does mean something’s going on that doesn’t make sense.

Our job is to consider the injury’s cause — medical, accidental and then nonaccidental trauma — as well as medical history and mechanics.  It’s not our job to immediately assume, if we don’t like how it looks, that somebody’s abused the child. We have to start with ruling out other options, especially with a nonverbal child.

In 30% to 40% of cases we see, we have to say we can’t determine if an injury was abuse or accidental, and we need to consider potential options for the injury.

How should I determine which tests are needed?

First, it’s important to know that exams have limits.  You can’t determine abuse simply by physical exam.  However, being financially responsible means to not shotgun and do every test available.

If you need to consult on a potential CPA case, my colleague Donald (Chris) C. Derauf, M.D., and I are available 24/7 every day for curbside consults at no cost.  We do 300 to 400 of these a year.  You may call us through the MATC to discuss what you’re seeing in a case, and we can advise on screening.  We are your resource and encourage people to call and bounce things off us.

How do I figure out who did it?

You and I don’t care.  It’s not our job.  Our primary role is to prove it’s not abuse and look at accidental injuries or other conditions that may have caused the injury.  Also, our job is not to rule out people who may have abused the child, or determine reason or intent — leave that to the legal system.

How can I help stop CPA?

If you can recognize CPA early through a sentinel event — a case where injuries in children nonmobile or under age 4 can’t be explained by a simple accident, such as significant bruising to the head or neck — you can make a difference.  For these children, consider the injury to be caused by someone.  Bruising in a nonmobile child should be a red flag if not immediately explained by multiple people.

Sentinel injuries, without witnessed accident, carry high risk of further injury or death.  According to an article by Sheets and others in the April 2013 issue of Pediatrics, 27% of kids who’ve been seen by a provider and demonstrated to have had a sentinel event will return with serious injuries or dead.

What’s my responsibility?

 These are critical steps for providers in potential CPA cases:

  • Identify other possible injury causes.
  • Recognize these things are serious.  Once considering CPA as a potential cause, you are a mandated reporter.  It doesn’t have to be proved, just suspected.  You can’t simply write in your notes that you’re concerned and not report.  You must contact child protective services about a safety plan and tell them why there’s concern.
  • Conduct testing in a timely manner; it’s important for safety and complete diagnosis.
  • Remember multiple types of abuse can coexist.  Do a complete exam for neglect; don’t just focus on a bruise.
  • Don’t send the family home until all test results come through, or the child potentially may be going into an unsafe environment.  While you’re doing your work, child protective services (CPS) will develop a safety plan.  We can’t send the family out until this plan is finished and documented by the physician.
  • Make a complete description of the injury, including photos.

Any suggested approach with the family if CPA is suspected?

Since it’s not our role to decide who did it, I usually use this approach and advise providers to consider it.  I say to the caregiver present: “With this type of injury, without a known medical problem causing it or a witnessed accident, I am concerned someone may have hurt your child.  Because of this, I am a mandated reporter and have already spoken with child protective services.  They will want to talk with you about safety plans for your child.  I also want to recommend some tests that may better tell us why the injury occurred and if there are other injuries present we cannot see on the exam.”

It’s important to help families understand that just because the child looks happy and OK, it doesn’t rule out other injuries.

Any pitfalls you’d suggest avoiding with CPA?

We fail to recognize our blinders.  If you’re homeless or a minority, statistics say CPA cases are overreported, according to a 2011 publication in Journal of the National Medical Association.  However, studies indicate if you’re white middle class and present with an infant to the emergency room, people don’t even think about abuse. Also, if we know members of the family personally, there’s a tendency to say, “They are nice people.  They wouldn’t do this.”

If we think there might be abuse, we need to get CPS involved, period.  Letting our biases influence who we report puts kids at risk.  Remember, reporting may help services be put in place to assist the family.

Which patients who’ve survived potential CPA need transfer for further work-up?

The work-up needs to be completed at the time the concern is raised.  Depending on the child’s age, it may include:

  • A dilated eye exam by an eye expert, to be completed within 48 hours
  • A skeletal survey immediately and again in two to three weeks
  • A head CT if under age 1 or obvious head trauma
  • Abdominal labs

If testing can’t be completed, transfer to a larger center is indicated.  If testing can be done and a safety plan put in place, the child may be evaluated at the local site only and be watched overnight or be sent home, depending on tests and exam.

Resource: MayoClinic.org
This publication can be seen HERE complete with links.

Weber Draws Five Life Sentences

.jpg photo of IHS doctor that sexually abused children in montana and south dakota
Stanley Patrick Weber, 71, of Spearfish SD was sentenced in federal court to five consecutive life sentences.

Former Pine Ridge doctor sentenced for Child Sex Abuse

RAPID CITY, SD  –  A former Indian Health Service pediatrician was sentenced Monday for sexually abusing Native American children while on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.

Stanley Patrick Weber, 71, of Spearfish was sentenced in federal court to five consecutive life sentences for five aggravated sexual abuse charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.  Weber also was sentenced to 15 years on each of three counts of sexual abuse of a minor.

Weber was sentenced last year to 18 years in prison for similar crimes against boys on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.  His sentences in South Dakota all will be served consecutively to each other and also consecutive to his Montana sentence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Weber also was ordered to pay $800,000 in fines.  The government says evidence at his trial showed that Weber sexually abused multiple Native American children between 1999 and 2011 while he was employed as an IHS pediatrician at Pine Ridge.

U.S. Attorney for South Dakota Ron Parsons said the sentence ensures that Weber “will never roam free again.”

Land Of Choosing Who Is Above The Law

.jpg photo of child abuse graphic
How Can CPS Be Above The Law

DA Wants Re-Hearing for Social Workers
in Child Abuse Death of
Gabriel Fernandez

Revised with previously filtered content

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA  –  Los Angeles County prosecutors are asking a state appellate court panel to reconsider its ruling that directed a lower court to dismiss charges against four social workers who were accused of failing to protect an 8-year-old Antelope Valley boy who was killed in May 2013.

.jpg photo of child beat to death in california in 2013
Gabriel Fernandez, 8-years-old.

“An autopsy showed that the boy had a fractured skull, several broken ribs and burns over much of his body. His teacher testified that she called Rodriguez multiple times to report that Gabriel told her that his mother punched him and shot him in the face with a BB gun.”

Prosecutors petitioned the three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal to either re-hear or modify its opinion in the case of social workers Stefanie Rodriguez, 34, and Patricia Clement, 69, and two supervisors, Kevin Bom, 40, and Gregory Merritt, 64.  The four were charged in March 2016 with one felony count each of child abuse and falsifying public records in connection with Gabriel Fernandez’s death.

Isauro Aguirre — the boyfriend of the child’s mother — was sentenced to death in June 2018 after being convicted of first-degree murder.  Jurors found true the special circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture.

LYING IS PART OF WHAT NEEDS TOTAL REALIGNMENT

The boy’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading to first-degree murder and admitting the torture allegation.

FOUR SOCIAL WORKERS CHARGED

In September 2018, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli denied a motion to dismiss the charges against the social workers, calling the young boy’s death “foreseeable.”

LA JUDGE WALKING TALL AGAINST 4 CPS EMPLOYEES

In a Jan. 6 ruling, the appellate court panel found that there was no probable cause to hold the two social workers and their supervisors on the charges and ruled that the trial court should have granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the case against them.

Associate Justice Victoria Gerrard Chaney concurred that the four could not be charged with child abuse, but wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that they could be prosecuted as public officers under the relevant government code section.

PROSECUTOR SAYS CPS COVERING UP OWN MISBEHAVIOR

“Allowing a social worker to evade liability for falsifying a public document would incentivize social workers to put their own interests in avoiding liability for their misdeeds above the purpose of the state’s child welfare statutory scheme, which is child safety,” Chaney wrote.

“The petitioners’ actions here prevented the system from working in whatever way it might have had they done their jobs honestly, and offers no incentive for either DCFS or individual social workers to work to reform and repair the parts of the system that may fail the children it is intended to protect,” she added. “We have, in effect, encouraged DCFS and its social workers to cover their tracks if they stumble on the cracks in the system.”

JUSTICE FOR GABRIEL, CPS NEXT

In their petition for reconsideration of the decision on the social workers’ case, prosecutors wrote, “If facts known to petitioners suggested Gabriel’s caretakers would harm him, petitioners had a duty to control Pearl and Isauro, to protect Gabriel and to prevent Pearl and Isauro from murdering him. If petitioners weren’t supposed to protect Gabriel from his killers, who was? …. It was their duty to supervise and control Pearl and Isauro’s conduct when it came to how Pearl and Isauro treated Gabriel.”

An autopsy showed that the boy had a fractured skull, several broken ribs and burns over much of his body. His teacher testified that she called Rodriguez multiple times to report that Gabriel told her that his mother punched him and shot him in the face with a BB gun.

Defense attorneys argued that the abuse and torture escalated months after a file on the boy had been closed and that there was insufficient evidence to take him away from his mother.

A Feb. 18 pretrial hearing is scheduled in the case, which was effectively put on hold during the appellate court proceedings.

Land Of Choosing Who Is Above The Law

.jpg photo of child abuse graphic
How Can CPS Be Above The Law

DA Wants Re-Hearing for Social Workers
in Child Abuse Death of
Gabriel Fernandez

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA  –  Los Angeles County prosecutors are asking a state appellate court panel to reconsider its ruling that directed a lower court to dismiss charges against four social workers who were accused of failing to protect an 8-year-old Antelope Valley boy who was killed in May 2013.

.jpg photo of child beat to death in california in 2013
Gabriel Fernandez, 8-years-old.

“An autopsy showed that the boy had a fractured skull, several broken ribs and burns over much of his body. His teacher testified that she called Rodriguez multiple times to report that Gabriel told her that his mother punched him and shot him in the face with a BB gun.”

Prosecutors petitioned the three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal to either re-hear or modify its opinion in the case of social workers Stefanie Rodriguez, 34, and Patricia Clement, 69, and two supervisors, Kevin Bom, 40, and Gregory Merritt, 64.  The four were charged in March 2016 with one felony count each of child abuse and falsifying public records in connection with Gabriel Fernandez’s death.

Isauro Aguirre — the boyfriend of the child’s mother — was sentenced to death in June 2018 after being convicted of first-degree murder.  Jurors found true the special circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture.

LYING IS PART OF WHAT NEEDS TOTAL REALIGNMENT

FOUR SOCIAL WORKERS CHARGED

LA JUDGE WALKING TALL AGAINST 4 CPS EMPLOYEES

PROSECUTOR SAYS CPS COVERING UP OWN MISBEHAVIOR

JUSTICE FOR GABRIEL, CPS NEXT