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Child Sexual Abuse | Article | McKay Law

Child Abuse: Widespread, Heartbreaking… And Often Actionable

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Child abuse comes in all different forms and places. Often it occurs where one would expect that children are sheltered and safe from harm. But abuse occurs in homes, foster care, school and even at church. Currently, an estimated 1,000 children are experiencing abuse in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

The attorney who litigates child abuse cases,  and calls the problem “an epidemic that has spread not just across our Philadelphia area but across the country, across the world” and one that victimizes “the most vulnerable members of society.” He adds that because of the Internet, which some predators use to contact children, “Bad people have gotten better at being bad.”

Because abusers do not “wear signs saying ‘I’m an abuser,’” The attorney notes, foster agencies must do meticulous screening and careful follow-up visits to ensure that children are situated in safe environments.

Nevertheless, there are many instances of abuse. And in many of those cases, the consequences are serious, even fatal.

Consider two recent reports in Texas news:

Tarrant County has a child abuse problem.

Though countless individuals and agencies work tirelessly on behalf of children in North Texas, the statistics are startling.

In 2016, there were 5,162 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect in Tarrant County, according to state data. That’s down 6 percent from 2015, but still the second-highest total among the state’s five largest counties.

Harris County had the most confirmed cases in 2016, with 5,812.

But when broken down to victims per 1,000 child population, Tarrant County doubles Harris County’s number — 9.67 victims to 4.80 victims.

“Any child who experiences abuse is too much,” said Paul Gravley, executive director of The Parenting Center, a Fort Worth organization that provides services to victims.

The Star-Telegram spent five months exploring the broad topic, and the results are being published in a three-part series, starting with an in-depth look at some troubling child deaths that were ruled undetermined or remain unsolved.

Only months earlier, The attorney obtained a $5 million settlement with two child placement agencies over the death of a 10-year-old boy who was neglected to the point at which he died due to an intestinal blockage. The Settlements are never enough to compensate the children, never enough to bring their lives back.  The attorney said: “My heart breaks for what these children had to endure …”

The attorney knows there are places for abused children to turn for help. The attorney said: “If you’re listening, I would tell you that there is help out there for you. My firm will help you. There is someone who can take care of you.” He advised that foster children who feel abused should call their social worker and, when they arrive, ask to talk to them privately. The same goes for the social workers, who he said should take children aside, whether in their car or at a local restaurant or another location apart from their foster parents and learn about the true nature of their environments.

The Texas Abuse Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-252-5400. Help The Attorney Save Children in Danger.

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