Child Abuse Becoming a Terrible Trend in the Valley

February 24, 2009 12:25:43 AM PST
Medical experts and social workers say they're seeing the effects of a failing economy being taken out on children at an alarming rate ... and they say it's only increasing. The young victims are often too young to talk and many of their parents are young as well. Combine that with the struggle to meet basic needs and experts say it can be too much to handle.

Doctor John Kinnison sees 90 percent of children suspected of being abused who show up at Children's Hospital with unexplainable injuries.

Pediatrician John Kinnison said, "A lot of the time the families come in and say you know he just wasn't acting right. Sometimes the kids will come in severe cases with seizure activity sometimes the kids will come in non responsive."

Lately the cases are getting worse. The injuries more severe. Child advocate Leanne Kozub says the state of the economy is playing a big part in the increased caseload throughout the Valley.

Kozub said, "A lot of times the abusers now are out of work and their home more and that control factor is there. The children's aren't going to school as much or the women aren't going out into the community reaching out for help if it's a domestic violence situation."

Late last year Children's Hospital had five abuse related deaths in just 30 days. Child Protective Services has seen a 40 percent increase in referrals that require an immediate response.

In January alone, CPS had 800 referrals that needed an in person visit from a social worker.

Child Protective Services Andrea Sobrado said, "What's different for us in December and January is families with no history being called in for allegations of physical abuse. We saw a lot of domestic violence this last month in January. January in isolation was a very concerning month."

Child advocacy groups say many families who need intervention are often unaware of the resources available for parents who feel like they are on the brink of snapping. Doctor Kinnison says his job is made more difficult by the fact the pain his young patients feel is preventable.

"Prevention starts in the community and I would love to be put out of a job. I would love to come to work tomorrow and they say we don't need you, the prevention worked, unfortunately we're not at that point," said Doctor Kinnison.

Since the death of 10 year old Seth Ireland in early January, many agencies including CPS have joined together to try to improve communication between those groups working to protect kids. Child advocates say reaching out to help your overwhelmed neighbor or directing them to agencies that might assist them is everyone's responsibility.

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