On Tuesday, the Children’s Advocacy Institute and the nonprofit organization First Star reported in a 110-page paper, entitled “Shame on U.S.,” that the federal government’s failure in enforcing the child protection laws had led to thousands of children deaths from abuse or neglect cross-country.
The findings confirm a previous investigation led by the Associated Press over an eight-month period into hundreds of abused children. The recent report also shows that the states knowingly take part in the abuse scheme by hiding crucial data from the supervisors.
“Our laws are weak. We don’t invest in solutions. Federal laws aren’t enforced. And courts are turning their backs. This creates a trifecta of inertia and neglect,”
said Amy Harfield from the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law.
Associated Press published its findings December 18. Its report revealed the causes for the situation – shallow federal supervision, budget cuts, layoffs, and an obsolete system of data collection. According to the data collecting system, states report the deaths of abused or neglected children only voluntarily, encouraging authorities to hide incriminatory data.
The AP reported in December that nearly 800 U.S. children died of neglect or abuse since 2008. Many of them were left to starve, to drown, or were even beaten to death, while child protection agencies knew that this would happen if they were brought back to their homes.
The AP report is also the most accurate statistics publicly available. The federal government estimated that about 1,600 abused children die every year, but the new report implies that the figure might be much higher – nearly twice as high, while many other children do not die from abuse but survive with near-fatal abuse or neglect.
The two child advocacy groups said that the truth about what was going on with those children was “cloaked in endemic secrecy” because the very governmental officials and agencies had not only turned their backs to their official duties of protecting the children but also hindered the access of media and child advocates to vital information that would lead to accountability.
“The report is saying what a lot of people have been experiencing. I share many of those sentiments that the federal government is not providing the kind of oversight needed,”
Micael Petit, who serves on the Federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, said after having read the latest report’s conclusions.
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