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Child Abuse Getting More Severe In San Diego County And Nation

Audio

Aired 5/12/10

The injuries among child abuse victims are becoming more severe in San Diego County. Officials say people need to be educated on how to identify abuse and report it.

The injuries among child abuse victims are becoming more severe in San Diego County. Officials say people need to be educated on how to identify abuse and report it.

Debra Zanders-Willis, center, Director, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Child Welfare Services, talks about the resources available to parents and caretakers to prevent or stop child abuse. Also: Nick Macchione, left, Director, HHSA, and Chairwoman Pam Slater-Price, right, County of San Diego Board of Supervisors.
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Above: Debra Zanders-Willis, center, Director, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Child Welfare Services, talks about the resources available to parents and caretakers to prevent or stop child abuse. Also: Nick Macchione, left, Director, HHSA, and Chairwoman Pam Slater-Price, right, County of San Diego Board of Supervisors.

County officials say the number of child abuse cases has fallen this year from about 9,000 to around 7,000. However, the degree of mistreatment has deepened which is consistent with national trends.

Officials are seeing more head injuries, rib fractures and broken legs and arms among victims under the age of one. They're also seeing more severe neglect. Children are underfed and they're illnesses are going untreated.

Debra Zanders-Willis is the head of the county's child welfare services. She attributes the harsher abuse to family dysfunction.

"Maybe post traumatic stress, depression, substance abuse, domestic violence," Zanders-Willis said. "Those are the families we're seeing that we have to provide intervention for."

Poverty and inexperience are also factors. Zanders-Willis says the bulk of child abusers are young parents under the age of 24 who have multiple children under the age of three.

Comments

Avatar for user 'jam2009'

jam2009 | May 15, 2010 at 8:37 a.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

Unfortunately, when a "good" parent or a child reports abuse, there are few people who will listen. In our case, I was divorcing an abuser so family court not only ignored my pleas to help my child but put her at risk by placing her with the abusive father. This is typical in family court. While the father is now in jail for sexually abusing minor girls under the age of 14, neither my child nor myself can forget the betrayal of the very authorities who were supposed to protect us. Statistically, abuse is enacted by a family member or friend. When it happens during custody battles, the child is often placed at risk by being placed with an abuser while the reporting parent is demonized and marginalized. What we need is a reformation to include ACCOUNTABILITY of authorities for their mistakes just as doctors are held accountable for their mistakes. It would make judges, social workers, and attorneys think before throwing a kid in the lions' den.

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