April 4, 2011

Stop the blame and help the children

I don't think there is anyone who wants to hear the horrific details of child abuse cases. The nightmares can be found in every city and in every state across America.

And the Sacramento region has its share of terrorizing headlines. There was four year old Amariana Crenshaw, whose charred body was found in 2008. There was also four year old Jahmaurae Allen, who died after being brutally beaten that same year. Five month old Gracie Lynn Johnson's name is etched in my mind. She had been dead for days, maybe even weeks, before her body was discovered inside a home six miles from where I live.

What all these children had in common is they were in the system. Child Protective Services. And that system failed them.

After the Amariana's death, a Sacramento Bee investigation found numerous problems within CPS. This led to an internal investigation, where employees were found to be overworked. Then came allegations of falsified records. But ultimately these CPS workers, for whatever reason, failed to be the savior these children had been praying for.

But instead of pointing fingers, I'd like to look for solutions. It is sadly unrealistic to believe we can end the abuse of all children. What we can do...what we MUST do, is find a way to make the job easier for those who watch over these kids.

Caseloads will always be piling up. Things put off one day only grow exponentially the next. I believe the answer may lie in technology.

Utilize electronic data systems and voice recorders to reduce the need of handwritten or even typed-in notes. In my mind, I picture a CPS worker with a handheld device, where he or she talks into it to record what is seen and heard. Where pictures and other recorded information can be immediately sent to an online file...and the proper authorities.

I truly believe most CPS workers decided on that career because they desperately wanted to help children. But that passion can get lost somewhere between the tower of files filled with the faces of abuse and the threat of arrest when a child is killed.

Everyone needs to move past acknowledging there is a problem and get working on a solution. Because everyday that passes, another abused child's burning hope at being saved is tragically extinguished.

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