Hundreds of Texas Child Abuse and Neglect Cases Unreported

| March 6, 2015 | Comments (1)

Texas Child Abuse Deaths Unreported

The problem of child abuse and neglect is a serious one, where in Texas alone, hundreds of child deaths related to abuse go unreported.

These figures comprise both individual cases and those of occurrences in daycare facilities, and the fact that Texas has failed to report so many child deaths that are related to abuse and neglect over the past five years raises questions about the accuracy of the state’s official count of childhood fatalities.

The Existence of the Problem

An investigation by American-Statesman into Texas’ child protection system brought to light the fact that between 2010 and 2014, the Department of Family and Protective Services failed to report a total of 655 fatalities related to child abuse in spite of the department’s confirmation that all of those children suffered from abuse before their deaths occurred. Child Protective Services caseworkers did not believe the deaths were the result of the abuse and as such they were not required under state law to report those deaths.

Even the author of the law was shocked when he learned legislators did not have information on all the state’s abuse-related cases. However, a spokesperson for the child protection agency stated that the agency had fully complied with federal and state laws. Even though non-identifying information such as ages, genders and the types of abuse and neglect were not previously reported (although the information was provided to anyone who requested it), that information will be reported in the future according to the spokesperson.

The Results of the Investigation

The newspaper arrived at the results after a six-month investigation during which they reviewed close to 800 reports that involved child fatalities. The results they used were derived from records of fatalities the agency reported that occurred between September 2009 and March 2014.

The state of Texas passed legislation in 2009 that required CPS to record all possible child-abuse fatalities in order to possibly identify any patterns and work toward accomplishing ways to prevent further deaths from abuse. The investigation by the Statesman revealed there was a lack of systematic analysis of the reports by CPS. What this means is the CPS workers in Texas have failed to detect deadly patterns and information of great importance in protecting children from abuse.

Results of the Investigation

  • The agency failed to track in detail how often it saw children before the problems resulted in death because of abuse or neglect.  Some of the alarming statistics from 1979 include: 374 children were visited by CPS at least once prior to death; in 144 fatal cases (almost 20 percent of all abuse-related deaths), the agency had visited the children at least three times; in twelve cases there had been family visits ten or more times; and in one case the child had received visits from the agency more than twenty times prior to his or her death.
  • In 166 cases (1 out of every 5 cases the newspaper reviewed) a child had previously been removed from the care of the caretaker because of concerns for the child’s safety before the time of death. The investigation showed 41 of those cases involved the same child who later died.
  • In 137 of the cases involved, 20 percent of the fatalities showed a parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend was at least partially responsible for the deaths; in abuse cases where homicide is involved that number is close to 33 percent.
  • In approximately 20 percent of child abuse fatalities that involved beating or strangulation the cases were never solved.
  • Texas has failed to perform a detailed analysis of the childhood deaths in order to assess those families that pose the greatest risk for harming a child.

While these cases involve all cases of child abuse fatalities, we cannot overlook the fact that some of these cases involve abuse in daycare centers. Since many of the cases of abuse were undocumented by CPS, it’s difficult to determine what percentage of those fatalities occurred as a result of abuse in day care facilities.

If you believe that a child has been abused or is in danger, please report your suspicions to the authorities immediately.


Category: In The News

Comments (1)

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  1. Teresa Moore says:

    I am ecstatic to see this Attorney speak up about CPS. The actions or lack of from Texas Child Protection should not be acceptable. No matter how understafed, no matter what their excuses are. Instead of focusing on adoptable children or targeting a family. So proud to read this from your firm..I think your firm would be in shock if further investigations brought out all the wrong doings of CPS.

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