All children, our children
Be nosy. Ask questions. Don’t accept excuses for suspicious injuries. Call Social Services.
These are a some of the ways everyone can help fight child abuse, a crime whose incidence has been decreasing in recent years but that stubbornly persists. Almost one in every 100 children in the United States was abused in 2011, according to federal reports.
A national study found that children whose parents are unemployed have about two times the rate of child abuse than children whose parents have jobs.
So far, the local teen whose name has made headlines, Erica Parsons, is known only to be missing. But the abuse described in recent search warrant affidavits raises chilling memories of cases that tore Rowan County apart in 1997. While everyone is focused on the search for Erica, this is a good time to commit anew to our collective responsibility to ensure the safety of vulnerable children in our community. All children are our children.
In 1997, three Rowan children died in separate incidents after being beaten and battered by the people who were supposed to be taking care of them. Jordan Bradshaw, called “Budde Clark” at the time, was 6 when he died at the hands of his stepmother. Christopher Jones, 19 months, was killed by his mother’s boyfriend. DeMallon Krider, 2, died after being thrown and beaten by his mother, recently released from prison.
Photos of Jordan and DeMallon show two happy-looking boys posing playfully for the camera. For them, there should have been many more photos, many more years.
The same goes for another child who died in 1997. Trola Miller, 16, was fatally shot while she was a bystander at a fight. She had run away from foster care. That might also be considered a caregiver’s failure.
After learning horrific details of the children’s deaths in 1997, Rowan County grieved. How could this happen right under our noses? We vowed to never look away again when signs of child abuse and neglect surface. There were other lessons, too — such as the need for communication among hospitals, social workers and law enforcement when abuse is suspected. Even more important, we learned that Social Services’ child protection unit must have enough social workers to adequately investigate and monitor reports of abuse and neglect. It makes no sense to cut corners on protective services for those most vulnerable to abuse — children and the elderly.
If you see signs a child is being abused — unexplained injuries, a fear of going home — you must let the county Department of Social Services know. The law requires it. Children need it. If you don’t do it, who will?
To learn more about the signs of abuse and what state law requires, go to www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/cps/about.htm. To report child abuse or neglect in Rowan County, call 704-216-8498. (After hours, call 911.)