Astounding news uncovered by the Associated Press reveals that “at least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span from 2008 to 2013 in plain view of child protection authorities.”
MSN reports that AP conducted an eight-month investigation into the data, or lack thereof, regarding the astounding number of children who are dying while the suspect is involved in an open case, as well as how many are dying while receiving assistance from the agencies are supposed to be keeping them safe.
Most of the 786 children whose cases were studied by the AP were under the age of 4. These children were beaten, starved, or left alone to drown “while agencies had good reason to know they were in danger,” as reported by ABC News.
One of the cases reviewed by the AP was that of little Mattisyn Blaz, a 2-month-old from Montana who died “when her father spiked her like a football.”
Mattisyn’s father, Matthew Blaz, was no stranger to either child services staff members nor the police. ABC News reports that when Mattisyn was 2-weeks-old, Blaz came home drunk, grabbed his wife by her hair, and flung her to the floor, all while she was holding the infant in her arms. His wife Jennifer called police when Blaz snatched Mattisyn from her.
Jennifer revealed that the day after Blaz’s attack, a social work came to their home and had a brief conversation with her. When Blaz pleaded guilty, a judge ordered him to take anger management classes and was ordered not to go near his wife.
Six weeks later the Montana child services paid a second visit to the Blaz family, only it was the day of Mattisyn’s funeral.
Upon reviewing the records, the AP determined that child services was aware of Blaz’s violent behavior, and several police reports were made as such. Although the protective order that was issued in July 2013 should have protected Mattisyn, only one month later her father was back in the family home.
On August 16, 2013, according to MSN, prosecutor Samm Cox reveals that Blaz “became enraged and threw the baby (Mattisyn), fracturing her skull and causing other devastating injuries.”
Matthew Blaz was sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole.
Ethan Henderson, from Maine, is yet another sad example of how child protective agencies are failing miserably. Ethan was 4-weeks-old when his mother rushed him to the doctor with a broken left arm on February 21, 2012. The doctor who treated Ethan was required by Maine laws to report possible child abuse. The doctor did not.
MSN reports that when the AP contacted authorities to gain information on Ethan’s case, Maine child welfare officials said the “state’s confidentiality law prohibited them from discussing details about their involvement.” That didn’t prevent the AP from pressing on to get the reports they needed from a criminal case against Ethan’s father, Gordon Collins-Faunce.
What the AP discovered was that child service hotline workers received at least 13 calls informing them that Ethan and his siblings were being abused, including assertions that an older sister had been found covered in bruises, was possibly being sexually abused, and had been burned by a stove because she was left unsupervised.
Two of those 13 calls were actually from police officers, but according to MSN, “hotline workers decided that neither merited a response.”
It wasn’t until May 2, 2012 that the child welfare agency had one of their agents, Melissa Guillerault, call the family to let them know she was on her way to visit the home and investigate.
When Guillerault arrived, she found five bags of trash on the porch as she entered their cramped trailer. She spoke with Collins-Faunce and his wife, but did not check the children for bruises, as reported by ABC News.
Once she completed her visit, she filed her report, stating that the parents were very engaging and that the baby appeared to be “well cared for and safe in the care of his parents.” Guillerault also acknowledged that she learned about Ethan’s broken arm at the visit yet still wrote in her report under the heading, “Signs Of Danger. None at this time.”
Six days later, on May 8, 2012, Ethan’s father killed him. Collins-Faunce confessed to police that he grew frustrated of hearing the baby cry, so he picked up his 10-week-old son by the head and hurled him into a recliner so hard that it caused a fatal brain injury.
Police determined that prior to calling 911, Ethan’s father went outside to smoke and play the video game Police Pursuit, per MSN.
Collins-Faunce was convicted of manslaughter. Ethan’s doctor, Dr. Lisa Gouldsbrough, was never disciplined. And Guillerault with the child welfare agency was promoted to a supervisory role, which she still maintains.
How are these agencies failing so miserably? Why are these children dying unnecessarily?
AP reports that after reviewing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all branches of the military, they have ascertained that the system is doing a horrible job of accounting for child deaths. Numbers are not being reported, and secrets are being kept.
Some states did not turn in one single report over the six year time frame that the AP reviewed. This lack of information makes it impossible to determine what kind of job the child protections agencies are doing when they are responsible for the well-being of innocent children.
No one has an exact number of how many children are dying under the not-so-watchful eye of those who are paid to protect them. ABC News reveals that “the federal government estimates an average of about 1,650 deaths annually in recent years many believe the actual number is twice as high.”
Is it possible that agencies which operate solely on federal grants are afraid to report their numbers per chance they may lose their funding?
MSN states that the AP reveals that the child protective services claim they have a shortage of staff and an overload of cases on a tight budget. While nearly “40 percent of the 3 million child abuse and neglect complaints made annually to child protective services hotlines are screened out and never investigated.”