April is Child Abuse Protection Month. Children that could be alive, die every day in the United States, because people do not report and Child Protective Services across this country too often do not follow their own simple procedures. Agencies and individual employees alike need to be held accountable when they make choices that result in children's deaths that otherwise might have been avoided.
The middle class baby shown here did not die from the abuse inflicted on her. She survived to adulthood, alive, but certainly not unscarred. During her early years she suffered much that would be called torture and prosecuted as a crime if inflicted by an adult on another adult. As a child she was subject to physical, emotional and psychological abuse, and possibly sexual abuse.
The newborn was three weeks old, when her mother first slapped her so hard on her bare bottom that the red hand mark remained for hours. By age one, mother and father escalated their corporal punishment in the name of training and discipline. Over the next years she was bitten, slapped, pushed, punched, beat with belts, metal edged rulers, wooden spoons, shoes, and other things. She was dragged around by her hair, forced to eat soap, locked in rooms, deprived of meals, forced to spend hours in stress positions, made to scrub floors with amonia, and endured other punishments to teach her lessons. An older sibling and a stepfather contributed more abuses. Although people knew, no one stood up or spoke out for her.
We, the petitioners, are standing up and speaking out for the children still suffering as much and more, every minute of every day.
We ask you, as a member of a Congress that continues to fund these agencies, and through them passes a lot of money to private companies providing services to children, without holding them all accountable for little more than where the money is spent, to reconsider your priorities for allocating taxpayers' money. Our children are important to us. We want to see that they are equally as important to you.
Before the next election, we want to know by your efforts just how important children are to you. The easiest way you can show us how much you do care is to take immediate action. Words simply aren't good enough anymore, especially when it comes to our children's lives. Promises, no matter how well intentioned, do not save children from the torture and death they experience while you delay.
As taxpayers we request the appropriate committees conduct extensive hearings on this issue sometime during this year. At least another 1,500 children will die at the hands of their primary caregivers during the year, and the majority of those children will be known to the Child Welfare System that is partly funded by your choices.
You have the power to make changes. You can write laws that eliminate the loopholes that enable the system to do as they did and get what they got... You can provide the financial incentives to create change among those who resist it. You can insure that people who put off until tomorrow what should be done today do so with as much risk to themselves as they cause to innocent children whose lives are at risk.
Congress held hearings on product safety because of dangers to children. You held hearings on Steroids because of dangers to children. You held hearings on Youth detention facilites because of dangers to children. You held hearings on human trafficking that involves dangers to children. You held hearings on internet safety and child pornography because of the dangers to children. These and other child-related hearings are important. We watched. We listened. We are glad that you did them. We thank everyone who participated.
However, as important as those issues are to children, not one of those issues involved the deaths of at least 4 or 5 children every day here in the United States. Not one involved hundreds of thousands of debilitating injuries to children each year in the United States. Not one involved 3 million reports of child abuse each year in the United States.
Those agencies and individuals that can make those numbers improve must be held accountable. Those who are accountable must be properly educated, trained, and supervised. Those who are accountable for children's safety and welfare must no longer be over loaded with more cases than can be effectively handled. Those who are accountable to investigate must no longer be tied to a desk doing paper work instead, because support staff has been eliminated due to funding cuts. Those who do the work that saves children must also be paid proportionately to the importance of that work. None of that is true now.
You can make the changes that ensure the inadequacy of the Child Welfare System is no longer an excuse for continued child abuse. We will thank you when you do.
Thank you now for your sincere consideration of this petition. We appreciate that. We look forward to the April when your changes mean stories like these are not in the news every day:
Father of two drowned in tub files claim against Nassau Agencies, charging neglect. http://select.nytimes.com/mem/tnt.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntget=2008/04/02/nyregion/02drown.html&tntemail1=y&oref=slogin
Orlando-Area Father Arrested on 350 Counts of Sexual Abuse.
Privatization and the Juvenile Justice System: A Tale of Abuse. http://www.leftinalabama.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=4339920861BA7904049E8969D581AEE3?diaryId=1308
Lessons from child deaths.
Lawsuit: Doctors failed to ID, report abuse before boy died. http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080303/LOCAL/803030369/1020/LOCAL05
Mother arrested in abuse of 7 year old who was burned.
Son's death leads to charge of homicide. http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/mar/06/sons_death_leads_charge_homicide_by_chil32874/
Child Deaths: Higher in Georgia Than in Other Parts of the Country.
Best Memorial for Dead Toddler: Report Suspected Child Abuse. http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080312/BLOGS02/80312037/1046/OPINION
Let Kids ' Deaths Haunt Debate for CPS Reform. http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0319roberts0319.html
Foster Parents say DHS doesn't follow own rules.
Running to Keep in Place: The Continuing Evolution of Our Nation's Child Welfare System.
Child Maltreatment 2005.