More Child Abuse cases reported as
school year begins
OMAHA, NE – Since the school year has started the number of child abuse cases coming into police has increased from the summer months. Project Harmony Executive Director Gene Klein said that has a lot to do with teachers taking note and making sure something gets done to stop the abuse.
“Usually in the first month or two we see a significant spike in the reports of child abuse and neglect,” said Klein.
In Nebraska, about 8,000 calls come into the Child Abuse Hotline every year.
“Of those, about 50% of those calls are coming from schools and in particular teachers,” said Klein.
Project Harmony works to educate thousands of teachers every year how to spot the signs of abuse at home.
“Physical abuse is pretty obvious. You see a mark or an injury,” said Klein.
But Klein said serious abuse, like sexual abuse, can be harder to spot.
“Children that are more withdrawn, isolating themselves maybe depressive,” he said.
In Nebraska, laws have existed for years that make every citizen a mandatory reporting party. That means if you see even a sign of something, you’re legally inclined to say something.
“I’m glad you’re doing a story on this to help people like myself become aware and to say something when they notice something,” mom Amy Roselind told WOWT 6 News.
It’s not widely known by everyone, but Project Harmony says even if you don’t have all the facts, even if there’s a possibility you could be wrong, they ask you to make a report anyway.
If you see any signs of possible abuse, call the Nebraska Child Abuse hotline at 1-800-652-1999.
For all of Our Readers in other states, call your local Law Enforcement, PLEASE, don’t ignore anything you see.
Social workers knew about suicide note abused boy was forced to write, family says
Four Los Angeles County social workers have been charged with felony child abuse and falsifying public records in the 2012 death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, of Sylmar, California.
The dead boy’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, are currently awaiting trial on charges of capital murder and torture.
Court records indicate more than 60 complaints were lodged with county Department of Children and Family Services about the mother.
County prosecutors allege DCFS employees Stefanie Rodriguez, Patricia Clement, Kevin Bom and Gregory Merritt were negligent in allowing “the significance of the physical, mental and emotional injuries that Gabriel suffered … [and] allowed a vulnerable boy to remain at home and continue to be abused.”
The four have been charged with one felony count of child abuse and one felony count of falsifying public records.
The boy’s mother and her boyfriend have pleaded not guilty to charges of beating the kid to death, shooting him in the chest and groin with a BB gun, knocking out his teeth, forcing him to eat his own vomit, drenching him with pepper spray and locking him in a cabinet in their bedroom with a sock stuffed in his mouth to silence his screams, according to court records.
Amanda Navarez, a family friend of Gabriel’s cousin, said she was shocked when she learned about the extent of the boy’s abuse.
“This was beyond abuse. It was torture,” Navarez told Fox News Latino. “We need a change in the system. DCFS needs to be restructured. I’m just hoping they don’t drop charges to lesser charges. We pay tax dollars for these people [social workers] and the union protects them.”
Fox News Latino attempted to contact Deputy District Attorney, John Hatami, handing the prosecution’s case and was told by DA spokesperson Ricardo Santiago, Hatami is not giving interviews at this time.
The fact that the social workers have also been prosecuted with criminal charges makes this case rare and historic for child welfare.
One of the most damning charges is a suicide note that Gabriel wrote, that according to court records, the social workers knew about.
“He was forced to write the suicide note, so that Pearl and Isauro could say it was his fault. They say he did things to himself. The truth is he played with dolls, and they claimed he was gay, and they hated that,” Emily Carranza, Gabriel’s cousin, told FNL.
Shortly before Gabriel’s death, the caseworkers decided to close his case.
At their arraignment last week, the social workers did not enter pleas, pending another hearing later this month. Superior Court Judge Sergio Tapia set bail for each at $100,000.
“Social workers play a vital role in society. We entrust them to protect our children from harm,” Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “When their negligence is so great as to become criminal, young lives are put at risk. We believe these social workers were criminally negligent and performed their legal duties with willful disregard for Gabriel’s well-being.”
If convicted of child abuse and falsifying records, the social workers could face as much as 10 years in prison.
Prior to living with his mother and her boyfriend, Gabriel had lived with his grandparents, starting at a month old.
Gabriel’s grandfather, Robert, told police he lost custody of the boy when his daughter took him to a barbecue and refused to return him. She later returned with sheriff’s deputies, who claimed she had rights to Gabriel because she was his biological mother.
Within eight months living in his mother and boyfriend’s care, Gabriel’s teacher, Jennifer Garcia, reported physical signs of abuse to social workers. It’s been reported that the abuse continued to get more severe.
Calls to Pearl and Aguirre’s attorneys for comment were not answered by press time.
The teacher first reported the abuse when Gabriel said his mother would hit him with a belt buckle until he bled. He asked her if that was normal.
“I called the social worker several times after that incident,” Garcia told The Antelope Valley Times, saying she had the caseworker’s number on speed dial. “She [Pearl Fernandez, Gabriel’s mother] made him wear girls’ clothes to school once, saying it was to embarrass him.”
Additionally, Gabriel told her that he wanted to go back to living with his grandparents, Garcia told the newspaper.
The boy’s grandfather told the Antelope Valley Times that he heard rumors of Pearl’s neighbors also reporting the abuse.
“Pearl gave Gabriel up as soon as he was born. There was no bonding with him as an infant. I’ve heard rumors that she [Pearl] was abused herself by Robert, who I’ve also heard is gang affiliated,” Navarez told FNL.
She added: “Isauro [the boyfriend] was always a bully, I’ve heard from friends, even though on the outside he appeared to be very nice.”
Lack of Responsibility for one’s own actions, and Lack of Respect for Laws and Law Enforcement by a large percentage of adults is having a very negative impact on teenagers, and is already taking a heavy toll.
Although what should be apparent, and a MAJOR WAKEUP CALL to all is THE NEW CLOCK ON THE WALL.
The Clock that keeps track of the exponentially spreading HIV, AIDS, STDs, STIs, AND EBOLA; but there is one difference in that clock, it’s not COUNTING TIME, IT IS SUBTRACTING TIME…. until every disease unique to humans becomes extinct.
Thirty-five states saw youth drug overdose deaths increase dramatically in the past decade, according to a new report. And in five states – Kansas, Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming – the overdose death rates more than quadrupled.
Drug overdoses were the leading cause of injury death in 2013, exceeding that of motor vehicle crashes, says the report released Thursday from Trust for America’s Health, a national non-profit group that watchdogs public health issues.
Reducing Teen Substance Misuse: What Really Works ranks states on their actions to curb teen substance abuse — from alcohol to opioids — among 12 to 25-year-olds in the U.S from 1999 to 2013.
Of the 35 states that have seen an increase in youth overdose deaths from 1999 to 2011, rates more than tripled in 12 states (Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Utah and West Virginia).
While Kansas, Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming saw the biggest increase in youth overdoses in the same period, those states do not currently have the highest rates in the country. Current rates are highest in West Virginia, where 12.6 per 100,000 youths overdosed from 2011 to 2013 — compared with North Dakota, where only 2.2 per 100,000 youths overdosed in the same time period, according to the report.
“More than 90 percent of adults who develop a substance use disorder began using before they were 18,” Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health, said in a press release.
The amount of prescription painkillers prescribed and sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled since 1999, and prescription drug overdoses accounted for more than half of the all drug overdoses in 2013. Nationally, males are 2.5 times more likely to overdose as females, according to the report.
“The increase in youth drug overdose deaths is largely tied to increases in prescription drug misuse and the related doubling in heroin use by 18 to 25-year-olds in the past 10 years – 45 percent of people who use heroin are also addicted to prescription painkillers,” the report said.
The report highlights 10 indicators of policy strategies that could help curb substance abuse in the younger population. These include limiting access to the drugs, increased funding for treatment facilities and improving counseling, early intervention strategies and recovery support.
“Achieving any major reduction in substance misuse will require a reboot in our approach – starting with a greater emphasis on preventing use before it starts, intervening and providing support earlier and viewing treatment and recovery as a long-term commitment,” Levi said