Congress urged to stop child maltreatment deaths

Children need the protection of their government as the number of maltreatment deaths increase

As part of a campaign to stop child abuse and neglect deaths, National Children's Alliance and its partners – the Every Child Matters Education Fund, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National District Attorneys Association – are running ads that urge Congress to address the fatalities that claim the lives of innocent children every day. Specifically, the advertisements ask Congress to hold hearings and provide emergency funds to stop state cuts in child protective services. The advertisements will run in Roll Call, The Hill and Politico. The ultimate goal is to compel legislators to bring the national attention and federal resources to bear on what has become a national tragedy.

In addition to placing ads and delivering the recommendations, the four partnering organizations will urge their constituents to contact members of Congress and let them know that stopping child maltreatment deaths should be a top priority.

"As the national association of Child Advocacy Centers, we understand how imperative it is for Congress to recognize and act on this national crisis.  These numbers are staggering and if we don't mobilize as a country, our children will continue to suffer," remarked Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of the National Children's Alliance.

According to We Can Do Better: Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America, a report released in October, 2009, nearly five children die in America every day from abuse or neglect. Federal data shows that 10,440 children in the U.S. died from abuse and neglect between 2001 and 2007, but experts say the real number may be as many as 5,000 higher. A weak economy and resulting state budget cuts are putting even more children at risk, as evidenced by the multitude of newspaper stories from across America that link an increase in child abuse to the worsening recession. To see a compendium of these stories, entitled "The Growing Crisis in Child Protection," click here.

During the Summit on Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths last October that followed the release of the report, more than 100 child welfare stakeholders from across the country met to discuss strategies and tactics for combating child abuse and neglect and for shoring up a child protection system that is stretched too thin. Following are recommendations resulting from those discussions.

  1. Building upon the best of current child protection systems, the government should take the lead in developing a national strategy for stopping maltreatment deaths. It should include public health and social services aimed at strengthening families and preventing maltreatment in the first place, along with state of the art assessment tools to identify and properly assess those at risk.
  2. Current levels of federal spending are far below the level needed to protect all children at imminent risk of harm. For example, three to five billion dollars are required to allow child protective workers and other frontline personnel to have smaller caseloads and better training, not only so that they will be better prepared to immediately protect children, but so that they will consider having lifelong careers in child protection bringing needed maturity and experience to the system. Continuing education and training across disciplines should be mandated, focusing especially on licensure, accreditation, and support for sub-specialties. Funds are also needed to provide a wide array of public health and social services to help at-risk kids, including comprehensive in-home services for all children already in the system.  
  3. In consideration of expanded federal spending, states should be required to adopt national standards drawn from existing best practices and policy for protecting children.
  4. Congress should modify confidentiality laws to allow policy makers, the press, and the public to understand better what protection policies and practices need to be improved in the aftermath of a child's death.
  5. The Department of Health and Human Services should standardize definitions and methodologies used to collect state data related to maltreatment deaths and should require states to provide such data to the Department and within and across systems in order to receive federal funds. Further, state child death review teams should be adequately funded.
  6. The Department of Health and Human Services, in cooperation with state child protective and public health agencies, should conduct a public education campaign to encourage reporting of child abuse and neglect, and to enlist communities in the protection of children. And because much maltreatment and many maltreatment deaths arise from neglect, neglect should receive equal focus in the campaign and by those involved in child protection.
  7. To better protect children at imminent risk of severe harm, the federal government, led by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human services, and in cooperation with states, should adopt a model protocol for assuring that civil and criminal legal proceedings are closely coordinated between child protection and law enforcement agencies.
According to Every Child Matters President Michael Petit, author of the report, We Can Do Better: Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths in America, "Only a national approach will overcome inadequate funding and less than robust social policies to protect families. Child abuse and neglect exacts a heavy toll—thousands killed, millions of lives ruined, and costs of more than $100 billion a year. We must do better."

As a nation, we know a great deal about preventing abuse and neglect and related fatalities. When provided with support services and appropriate supervision, the vast majority of potentially abusive and neglectful parents can learn to safely care for their children and families. Many abused children develop the resiliency to overcome the abuse they've sustained, but for others, these patterns of abuse will continue into the next generation.

SOURCE National Children's Alliance


  1. Leonard Henderson Leonard Henderson United States says:

    Observing how these plans originate, and how good an idea they appear at the top, it seems that everybody remains oblivious to how it actually works out at the bottom.

    By the time these plans reach the front lines, they turn into nothing more than fascism and fraud upon the children and their families.

    The child welfare agencies who implement the policies do anything and everything BUT what the program initiators thought would happen.

    The government, under parens patriae becomes an abhorrent, abusive, dangerous "parent" to the children who become involved in the system.

    This system has NO "Success Stories" to tell.  Child Protective "services" DESTROYS EVERY LIFE THEY TOUCH.

    "There are more than half a million children and youth in the U.S. foster care system today. Studies reveal that children are 11 times more likely to be abused in state care than they are in their own homes, and 7 times more likely to die as a result of abuse in the foster care system."-- John Walsh Show April 16, 2003

    "You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered; but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered." -Lyndon B. Johnson  

    He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance. -The Declaration of Independence

    Not since the overthrow of the Weimar Republic have the leaders of a major democracy used their offices and the mass media to disseminate invective against millions of their own citizens.  In fact it was Adolph Hitler who urged that “the state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people” and who explained, in the words of Rabbi Daniel Lapin, that “as long as government is perceived as working for the benefit of children, the people happily will endure almost any curtailment of liberty.”  Using children to tug on our heartstrings may be not only a weakness of the sentimental. It also may be a ploy by those cynical and unscrupulous enough to exploit children for their own purposes. This is likely to be remembered as one of the most diabolical perversions of governmental power in our history, a time when we allowed children to be used and abused by fast-talking government officials and paid for it with our families, our social order and our constitutional rights.-- STEPHEN BASKERVILLE (in about 2000)

    Mass incarcerations without trial or charge; forced confessions; children forcibly separated from their parents with no reasons given; doctored hearing transcripts and falsified court records; evidence fabricated against the innocent; government agents entering the homes, examining private papers and personal effects, and seizing the property of citizens who are under no suspicion of legal wrongdoing; special courts created specifically to convict people who cannot be convicted in ordinary courts; children instructed to hate their parents by state functionaries:  

    Is all this the Soviet Union in the 1930s or Communist China in the 1960s? Is this some novelist’s prognosticated dystopia?

    No, all this and more is routine in the United States today.
    - Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D, December 18, 2007

    These "help the children" programs work out to be nothing but KIDNAPPING and TYRANNY by the time they get to the children, and the implementation of these programs become nothing more than FRAUD upon the Federal Funding Streams.

    We would much rather that children received their Fourth Amendment Right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    As it stands now, after 35 years of "child protection" we are dealing with a pandemic, tyrannical FRAUD in the Child Welfare system.

    Leonard Henderson, co-founder
    American Family Rights Association
    "Until Every Child Comes Home" ©
    "The Voice of America's Families" ©

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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