Originally published February 8 2015
Texas CPS underreported 655 children killed under its "care"
by Jennifer Lilley
(NaturalNews) Child Protective Services (CPS) in Texas is under serious scrutiny these days as investigative reporters dig deeper into findings that the agency significantly faltered in their duties to help protect and save children.
It's simple. The job of CPS is to analyze and tend to every single neglect and abuse report it receives.
However, reporters from the Austin American-Statesman have discovered that the majority of some 779 reports were ignored completely. If they were looked into, in many instances they were brushed under the carpet by CPS, made possible by a 2009 loophole in a law that said caseworkers had to publicly report any maltreatment that led to a child's death.(1,2)
The loophole? The law doesn't require reporting such a death if abuse was not what contributed to the death directly. As such, it's thought that the caseworkers intentionally disregarded this type of reporting in order to minimize the severity of what was occurring.
The details of the reporters' findings are bothersome to say the least.
Loopholes, lies and unreported casesIt was found that almost half of the children who died were already on CPS's radar, with the agency even having contact with one family 20 times before the child passed away. Just as shocking was the discovery that, for years, over 50 CPS workers have been caught lying to prosecutors, providing false information on state records and ignoring court orders. To make matters worse -- and this is a key problem identified by the reporters -- Texas has not publicly reported several hundred abuse- and neglect-related child deaths every year, despite having an awareness of mistreatment situations prior to their death.(1)
The underreporting and seemingly blase attitude is concerning for Austin American-Stateman reporter Eric Dexheimer, who has been involved in uncovering these details.
"Obviously, we all want the agency... to act as best they can. We want them to do their job more efficiently. We want them to do it better," Dexheimer says in a Statesman.com video. "We don't want any child to die, so the more that they can use this information to better prevent childhood abuse and neglect deaths, the better off that everyone will be."(1)
At the same time, he acknowledges that the amount of cases CPS receives is overwhelming and that there's a delicate balance that must be managed.
"Texas literally looks at tens of thousands of cases every year," he says. "CPS has, effectively an impossible job. Parents have the right to be parents and so you violate their rights if you take kids away too quickly. If you take them away too slowly, the results can be catastrophic."(1)
Analyzing the details: reporters doing what CPS should have been doing all alongAs they uncovered their findings, the reporters ultimately developed a database to analyze information from the often forgotten or ignored CPS reports. In doing so, they were able to better hone in on commonalities that might provide clues about particular cases, information which they feel could have helped children survive had CPS delved into the matter with such dedication themselves.
Their research found that one of the most common situations involves children being harmed by the boyfriend of girlfriend of a parent, many of whom already have a past involving abusing children.(1)
According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, child fatalities on a nationwide basis in 2013 due to abuse and neglect were numerous. According to 2013 demographic information in their Child Maltreatment report:
Younger children are the most vulnerable to death as the result of child abuse and neglect. Nearly three-quarters (73.9%) of all child fatalities were younger than 3 years and the child fatality rate mostly decreased with age. Children who were younger than 1 year old died from maltreatment at a rate of 18.09 per 100,000 children in the population younger than 1 year.(3)
The report adds:
Of the children who died, 71.4 percent suffered neglect and 46.8 percent suffered physical abuse either exclusively or in combination with another maltreatment type. ... Four-fifths (78.9%) of child fatalities involved parents acting alone, together, or with other individuals.(3)
Currently, several individuals from the Texas CPS are facing criminal charges for alleged misconduct.
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