Senator Tim Kennedy Calling for Investigation Following Murder of 5-Year Old.

 “Eain’s death is an intolerable and heartbreaking tragedy, and we must do all we can to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.  Unfortunately, we’ve all spoken that exact sentence far too many times to fully accept that the state and county have truly done everything that could be done to protect our children and prevent senseless tragedies like this from occurring. The state Office of Children and Family Services must investigate this tragedy and intensely review the operations of Child Protect Services agencies in Erie County and across the state to ensure New York children are kept safe from harm.”  (WKBW Admin, 2013)

 We can complain about CPS, but until we pay attention to how the officials we elect vote then nothing will change.  Senators, Congress, Governors, and President’s allow funding cuts that would supply the needed monies to the programs that help children.  They vote down, or veto bills, which would increase training, awareness, reporting, safety protocol, and legal items that are necessary to enforce, follow-up, and prosecute these predators and those that protect them. 

 This past year alone, like very year, dozens of laws that would help children failed, that means the officials we elected voted against them!  When we let our elected officials know we are watching them, expect them to help us help our children, and make them accountable by voting out of office those who ignore the cries of these abused children then we will see a change in this epidemic. 

 JDP

Full Story: http://www.wkbw.com/news/local/Senator-Tim-Kennedy-Calling-for-Investigation-Following-Murder-of-5-Year-Old-224667521.html

 State by State Legislative Update:  http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/human-services/mandatory-rprtg-of-child-abuse-and-neglect-2013.aspx

 Source:  WKBW Admin.  (2013, Sept. 20).  Senator Tim Kennedy Calling for Investigation Following Murder of 5-Year Old. wkbw.com/news. Retrieved from http://www.wkbw.com/news/local/Senator-Tim-Kennedy-Calling-for-Investigation-Following-Murder-of-5-Year-Old-224667521.html

Grandmother Says She Warned County About Abuse of Dead Boy

 “The grandmother of the 5-year-old Buffalo boy beaten to death earlier this week said she had asked Erie County child protection officials to remove the accused killer from the child’s life several times prior to the boy’s death.  ‘I looked straight in the face of the Child Protective Services worker and said, what … is it going to take?’ said Robin Hart, the maternal grandmother of Eain Clayton Brooks. ‘Matt has been beating Eain and also chemically burned him.  What is it going to take? And now Eain has been killed by him.’  (Michel, 2013)

 This grandmother is not the first, but one of legions that have tried to rescue their grandchild before it was too late.  The response is often; our hands are tied until the child is harmed again.  Even with “Recommendations” in place, CPS cannot do anything until the child cries out or someone reports.  The “next time” often results in the child’s death or serious harm.  The public does not realize the legal restraints under which Child Protective Services operates.  The parents/guardians have all the power, which figuratively binds the hands of CPS and limits the actions they can take.  Unless there are obvious signs, and the worker can guarantee they can win the case in court, they usually will not remove the child.  Instead, they offer FBSS Family Based Social Services that keeps the child in the home, while the parents get help. 

 However, due to finances and the restrictive laws the situation is not closely monitored.  While the child remains in the home, the parents have control over CPS.  Yes, we have all heard a story or two where CPS did remove a child, mistakenly, but compared to children not removed, that is a rarity. 

Nothing is going to change until we make our voices heard by voting out those politicians who allow abusers and pedophiles to walk free, and vote in those politicians who will take a stand.   Full story:  http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/grandmother-says-she-warned-county-about-abuse-of-dead-boy-20130919

 Source:  Michel, Lou. (September 19, 2013).  Grandmother says she warned county about abuse of dead boy. The Buffalo News.  Retrieved from http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/grandmother-says-she-warned-county-about-abuse-of-dead-boy-20130919

Reporting Laws & Guidelines for Anyone

When You Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect: A General Guide

From the Office of the Texas Attorney General

We all have the responsibility to protect our children from harm.  If you suspect the abuse or neglect of a child, it is your duty to report it immediately.  Anyone (Not just professionals) having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect MUST report the case immediately to a state or local law enforcement agency or the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

DFPS has a toll-free, 24-hour Family Violence Hotline: 1-800-252-5400 

Your legal obligation:  Current law (Texas Family Code, Chapter 261, 261.101) requires that professionals such as teachers, doctors, nurses, or child daycare workers must make a verbal report within 48 hours.  Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $2,000 (Texas Family Code, Chapter 261).  (Editor’s Note- Failure to report by a Professional  has changed to a felony) Texas TX HB 1205 Makes the penalty for a professional who knowingly fails to make a report  a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the actor intended to conceal the abuse or neglect. Enacted) (NCSL, 2013)

Reporting suspected child abuse to your principal, school counselor or superintendent will NOT satisfy your obligation under this law.  Local school district policy cannot conflict with or supercede the state law requiring you to report child abuse to a law enforcement agency or DFPS.

Your legal Protection:  Your report of child abuse or neglect is confidential and immune from civil or criminal liability as long as the report is made in “good faith” and “without malice.”

In good faith means that the person making the report took reasonable steps to learn facts that were readily available and at hand. Without malice means that the person did not intend to injure or violate the rights of another person. Provided these two conditions are met, you will also be immune from liability if you are asked to participate in any judicial proceedings that might result from your report.

If you suspect abuse:

DON’T try to investigate
DON’T confront the abuser
DO report your reasonable suspicions

It is not up you to determine whether your suspicions are true. A trained investigator will evaluate the child’s situation. Even if your report does not bring decisive action, it may help establish a pattern that will eventually be clear enough to help the child.  (Editor’s Note-This is one of the reasons I emphasize the importance of reporting by everyone.)

The following indications don’t by themselves necessarily indicate abuse. You might talk to the child a little to see if there is a simple or innocent explanation for what you have observed.

Warning signs of abuse:

Suspect physical abuse when you see…

  • Frequent injuries such as bruises, cuts, black eyes or burns, especially when the child cannot adequately explain their causes
  • Burns or bruises in an unusual pattern that may indicate the use of an instrument or a human bite; cigarette burns on any part of the body
  • Frequent complaints of pain without obvious injury
  • Aggressive, disruptive and destructive behavior
  • Lack of reaction to pain
  • Passive, withdrawn, emotionless behavior
  • Fear of going home or seeing parents
  • Injuries that appear after the child has not been seen for several days
  • Unseasonable clothes that may hide injuries to arms or legs

Suspect neglect when you see…

  • Obvious      malnourishment
  • Lack      of personal cleanliness
  • Torn      and/or dirty clothes
  • Obvious      fatigue and listlessness
  • A      child unattended for long periods of time
  • Need      for glasses, dental care or other medical attention
  • Stealing      or begging for food
  • Frequent      absence or tardiness from school

Suspect sexual abuse when you see…

  • Physical      signs of sexually-transmitted diseases
  • Evidence      of injury to the genital area
  • Difficulty      in sitting or walking
  • Frequent      expressions of sexual activity between adults and children
  • Pregnancy      in a young girl
  • Extreme      fear of being alone with adults, especially if of a particular gender
  • Sexually      suggestive, inappropriate or promiscuous behavior
  • Knowledge      about sexual relations beyond what is appropriate for the child’s age
  • Sexual      victimization of other children

A disclosure:  If you are the first person the child tells about sexual abuse, your testimony as “outcry witness” may be especially important in future legal proceedings. What you say the child told you is not considered hearsay but is admissible evidence in a trial involving a sexual offense against a child. This exception applies only to the first person the child approaches.

You are responsible for your child’s safety:  If you permit your child to be in a situation where he or she may be injured, then you may be prosecuted for child abuse. The fact that the abuser is a parent or other family member does not remove your obligation to protect the child. (Editor’s Note-Most often abusers are someone the child knows)

If you are frightened for your own safety or that of your child, call 911 or 1-800-252-5400.  You are legally responsible for the care of your child.  You must provide your child with safe and adequate food, clothing, shelter, protection, medical care and supervision, or else you must arrange for someone else to provide these things.  Failure to do so may be considered neglect.

Revised: April 26 2013 

Office of Attorney General video:

What Can We Do About Child Abuse?

State agencies/law:

Dept of Family and Protective Services TX Family Code, Chapter 261

Sources

 National Conference of State Legislatures.  Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect | 2013

Introduced State Legislation.  26 August 2013.  Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/human-services/mandatory-rprtg-of-child-abuse-and-neglect-2013.aspx

 Office of the Attorney General.  When You Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect: A General Guide.  26  April

2013.   Retrieved from    https://www.oag.state.tx.us/victims/childabuse.shtml .  16 Sept. 2013

Teachers, Other Professionals & Child Abuse Reporting: Know the Laws

Child Abuse or Neglect Reporting

The following was included in TCTA’s 2013-14 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of summer 2013 but is subject to change.

Definition of Abuse: The definition of abuse includes physical, sexual or mental abuse, and also failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent a child from being abused.

Reporting Requirements:
 ◾Texas law requires any professional who suspects that a child is being abused or neglected to report it within 48 hours to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at 800-252-5400 or any local or state law enforcement agency.
◾Reports must be made of any type of suspected abuse or neglect, not just acts of physical abuse.
◾The obligation to report includes abuse that may occur in the future.

The contents of a report must include, if known:
1.the name and address of the child
2.the name and address of the person responsible for the care, custody or welfare of the child, AND
 3.any other pertinent information concerning the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect

Situations involving possible abuse or neglect of a child and the steps taken to report it may present themselves in different ways. See two examples in Texas DFPS video scenarios.

Reporting is YOUR Responsibility:  While it is suggested that, as a professional courtesy, you inform an administrator of your suspicions of abuse, this action does not satisfy or negate your responsibility under Texas law to make a report within 48 hours. The Texas Family Code states that “a professional may not delegate to or rely on another person to make the report.”  Rules developed by the commissioner of education stress that district procedures may not undermine state law by requiring school personnel to report suspected child abuse to administrators prior to making the report to the proper authorities. 

Abuse Hotline:  Call the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ 24-hour, toll-free telephone hotline to report suspected abuse or neglect: 800-252-5400. Or file a nonemergency report online.

Consequences of Failure to Report:  Failure to report is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, 180 days in jail or both.  (Editor’s note- This has changed to a potential felony offense.) NCSL, 2013)

Texas TX HB 1205 Makes the penalty for a professional who knowingly fails to make a report  a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the actor intended to conceal the abuse or neglect. Enacted

 

 

Immunity Provisions:  Those reporting are not required to have proof that a child is being abused but must have reasonable cause to know or suspect abuse. As long as the report is made in good faith, the reporter is protected from civil and criminal liability.  The commissioner of education has enacted rules supporting state law that require school district policies to inform employees of their immunity from liability for good faith reports as well as the penalties for failure to report.

Confidentiality Requirements:  The Texas Family Code specifically states that both a child abuse report and the identity of an individual making a report are confidential and may be disclosed only by order of a court or to a law enforcement officer for the purposes of conducting a criminal investigation.  A court may not order the disclosure of a reporter’s identity or a child abuse report unless a motion has been filed and the judge has conducted a private review of the requested information and determined that the disclosure is essential to the administration of justice, and is not likely to endanger the life or safety of the child or reporter.

Mandatory Training:  As part of new employee orientation, school districts must provide training on recognition and prevention of sexual abuse and other maltreatment (abuse and/or neglect) of children. The training may also be provided as part of a school district’s staff development offerings for ALL employees.  (Editor’s Note-Is your district following this procedure?)

The training must include:
◾factors indicating a child is at risk for sexual abuse or other maltreatment
 ◾likely warning signs indicating a child may be a victim of sexual abuse or other maltreatment
 ◾internal procedures for seeking assistance for a child who is at risk for sexual abuse or other maltreatment, including referral to a school counselor, a social worker, or another mental health professional
◾techniques for reducing a child’s risk of sexual abuse or other maltreatment
 ◾community organizations that have relevant existing research-based programs that are able to provide training or other education for staff members, students and parents (Editors Note- See additional Legislation passed this summer) (NCSL, 2013)

Texas TX SB 939 Requires each school district, open-enrollment charter school, and higher education employee to report child abuse or neglect.  Each school’s reporting policy may not permit or require an employee to report child abuse or neglect to the employee’s supervisor before the employee makes the report to the Department.  Each institution of higher education shall also adopt a policy governing the reporting of child abuse and neglect for the institution and its employees. Training must be provided to orientation, to all new school district and open-enrollment charter school employees and to existing district and open-enrollment charter school employees until all district and open-enrollment charter school employees have taken the training.  Each institution of higher education shall provide training for employees who are professionals in recognizing and preventing sexual abuse and other maltreatment of children and the responsibility and procedure of reporting suspected occurrences of sexual abuse and other maltreatment. Enacted

School district employees acting in compliance with required school district policies regarding sexual abuse or other maltreatment of children are immune from liability and cannot be subjected to any disciplinary proceeding resulting from those actions.  Additional information on child abuse/neglect and reporting requirements is available from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.  (Editor’s Note-This is written to protect those reporting.  Please do not misinterpret this as protecting those whose school or district promotes policies that do not reflect the law.  You are not protected if you fail to report, even if that is your unofficial school or district policy.  You will pay the penalty and do the time. )

Sources

National Conference of State Legislatures.  Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect | 2013.  Introduced State Legislation.  26 August 2013.  Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/human-services/mandatory-rprtg-of-child-abuse-and-neglect-2013.aspx

Texas Classroom Teachers Association.  Child Abuse or Neglect Reporting.  17  July 2013.  Retrieved from https://tcta.org/node/11489-child_abuse_or_neglect_reporting

 

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