Evil exists on several levels. Logically there would be arguments regarding which heinous acts deserve the greater punishment. Little disagreement exists when the subject is abuse of a child in any form; it’s simply unforgivable.
Statistics from 2012 reveal that 1,593 children died due to abuse or neglect. The younger the child the greater the chance of becoming a statistic. 70.3 percent of children who died were under three years of age; 44.4 percent had not reached their first birthday. Overall 45 percent of abused children are less than five years old.
Texas Child Protective Services underreported 655 deaths of children in its state. They occurred over a five year period and were the result of neglect or abuse.
Nearly half of the homes where these deaths occurred were known to CPS, and had been investigated. 144 homes where a child died had been inspected multiple times.
The newspaper which exposed CPS, Austin American-Statesman, revealed that many of the deaths were the result of beatings or strangulation. Twenty percent of the cases remain unsolved, while other investigations have continued for years without an indictment.
CPS used a loophole in a 2009 law to underreport the deaths between 2010 and 2014. If ‘abuse did not directly contribute to the child’s death, they were not required to report maltreatment within families.’ Case workers frequently used this exclusion to remove themselves from scrutiny and accountability.
The report was published over the weekend. The legislative session in Texas begins on Tuesday. Newly elected Governor Greg Abbott has already been informed of neglect by the Department of Family Services, and petitioned to conduct a full investigation of the agency.
The report by Austin American-Statesman raised questions regarding statistics across the nation. The federal government does not compile the information about deaths of minor children; individual states are responsible for revealing the numbers. Have other Departments of Children and Families operated under similar situations, hiding child abuse which eventually results in death to protect their case workers?
Yearly there are approximately 2.9 million reported cases of child abuse; 80 percent are committed by parents; the remainder perpetrated at the hands of a care giver.
Survivors of child abuse suffer long term effects. Physical problems such and chronic illness and mental problems including depression and withdrawal are directly attributable to that abuse. Behavioral problems such as anti-social or violence are common.
Children removed from their parent’s homes and placed in institutions or foster care generally display lower IQ’s and have difficulty in school.
Moving into their teenage years victims of child abuse or neglect are 25 percent more likely to experience teen pregnancy. Eighty percent will experience at least one psychiatric disorder before the age of 21; eating disorders, anxiety, depression and attempted suicide. Arrests for a variety of criminal activity are more likely for teens who were victims of abuse as children.
Adults who were abused as children have developed physical disabilities; among these are ulcers, allergies, high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma and bronchitis.
Mental disabilities include panic disorders, ADD, hyperactivity, depression, anger, and PTSD. They are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Finally, studies show that of those individuals who were abused as children, one-third will become abusers themselves.
By James Turnage