The Springfield News-Leader has launched a public-service journalism project to focus public attention on critical challenges facing children, foster discussion and build on existing initiatives. You can read Executive Editor David Stoeffler's introductory column for more information on the project.
The recently created News-Leader's Every Child community advisory committee -- with representatives from the business, government, education, nonprofit, law enforcement, health and faith sectors -- will play an important role. It will educate and advise journalists and help engage other stakeholders and the general public in a discussion and, ultimately, action.
Woman escapes domestic violence to help build a better life for her sonSeptember 16, 2013
Beth is working third shift and secretly hoarding her paychecks. She has a plan to leave, to escape. She thinks of all the things she would later tell a judge: how the man tried to kill himself in front of her and her son, how he threatened her with a knife, how he has slapped her.
Many of the foster-system reforms have helped, but some have hurtSeptember 16, 2013
Dominic James should have been nearing his 12th birthday by now. He should have been in middle school. He might have grown out of his habit of waving at every passing car when he was outside. Wrestling with his father would no longer be cool.
Smart recalls details of harrowing ordealSeptember 16, 2013
Elizabeth Smart, abducted in Utah 10 years ago, often is asked: Are you completely healed? To arrive at an answer, she did a personal inventory. “I feel wonderful,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been happier,” she added.
Task force calls on public to join fight against child sexual abuseJanuary 6, 2013
For decades, talking about child sexual abuse was something people just didn’t do. On a rare occasion, after a big headline, it might come up in water cooler talk.
Others share concerns raised by Dixon about conditions at Children's DivisionDecember 9, 2012
For at least a time, the workers could not copy and paste.
State neglecting childrenJune 30, 2012
If the state of Missouri were a parent, it might be rightly charged with neglect. In what has become an all-too-familiar story, we learn once again how the state is failing in its duty to properly and quickly investigate child abuse and neglect reports.
Deadlines for child hotline calls routinely blown in Greene CountyJune 24, 2012
Last year, workers investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect in Greene County missed more state-mandated deadlines than they met.
Stress, low pay, heavy workload too much for many caseworkers to handleJune 23, 2012
No one becomes a Children’s Division caseworker with the idea it’ll be a cakewalk. It’s clear from the outset: The hours are tough, investigations are emotional and there’s significant responsibility to ensure each child is safe and thriving.
Every Child continues to teachJune 23, 2012
It was the kind of photo that made you want to turn your head away, or simply turn the page. Published with a story Feb. 5 as part of our Every Child series, the picture conjured up thoughts of starving children in faraway Third World countries.
Advocate keeps an eye on Children's DivisionJune 6, 2012
One result from the Dominic James Memorial Foster Care Act was the creation of the Office of State Child Advocate.
Keep kids safe from common risksMay 26, 2012
Twenty-five children die every day in the United States from injuries from drowning, falls, fires or burns, poisoning, suffocation, and transportation-related injuries. Think about it, one entire classroom of children dies every day from injuries.
Shortcomings must be metMay 13, 2012
In a community that prides itself on being a “great place to raise kids,” we have plenty to crow about, and plenty to fix. The state of mental health care, especially for children, offers us both opportunities.
Public health services a lifesaver for parents without insuranceApril 22, 2012
Shannon Murrill, 40, of Springfield has high blood pressure, but she doesn’t see the doctor because she doesn’t have insurance. Her three youngest children are another matter.
Abusers work to find victimsApril 13, 2012
The truth of the matter is, many adults who prey on children for sexual gratification are smart. They know where they’ll be trusted. They know who will look the other way. They know the kids who won’t tell.
Knowledge helps curb child abuseApril 7, 2012
Nearly 10 years ago, Community Partnership was looked to for help in developing a coordinated mandated reporter training for Greene County.
Greene County juvenile sex offenders often begin as victimsMarch 24, 2012
They tend to fly under the radar, get good grades and participate in school and church activities. They have rarely been in trouble before.
Greene County juvenile officer's job a balancing actMarch 24, 2012
Every juvenile who ends up under Morgan Galloway’s supervision has committed a sexual offense. As the sole Greene County juvenile probation officer for “sexually harmful youth,” she manages 30-35 open cases at any given time.
About 80 youth on confidential registryMarch 24, 2012
State law requires Greene County to maintain a registry of juveniles who have committed the most serious sex offenses. But unlike the adult registry, it’s not accessible to the public.
Parents key to Informed Supervision initiativeMarch 24, 2012
Greene County wants to improve the way it works with “sexually harmful youth” by expanding its Informed Supervision initiative and providing more support for families.
Options include five levels of supervision for sex offendersMarch 24, 2012
After a sex offense is reported, Greene County juvenile officials quickly determine if the youth should be locked up, released to a parent or offered an option in-between. They start with a detailed checklist.
Death of Dominic James led to changes in foster-care systemMarch 19, 2012
Sidney James hides what haunts him. His broad smile and vibrant personality draw people to him easily and comfortably. But beneath the surface is a lingering bitterness. James lost his only son nearly 10 years ago.
A big embraceMarch 18, 2012
Feb. 23 was a big day for Zoe. But while her new family celebrated her adoption, she was far more interested in animal crackers. At 2 years old, sugar is a lot more exciting than a courtroom and a guy in a robe.
CASA volunteer is a voice for hurt, neglected childrenMarch 17, 2012
The children watched their mother die. Her boyfriend shot her and then himself. The kids, a little boy and girl, remained trapped in the house for at least an hour. No one knew what had happened.
Working to keep children in their homes by helping familiesFebruary 26, 2012
Maribeth Primm has been known to wash cockroaches out of her hair because of her job. She’s pulled up carpet that’s been matted to the ground with dog urine. Her work? Helping families keep their children from being removed by the state.
Children exposed to methFebruary 25, 2012
Police went to a south Springfield house earlier this month to check on the welfare of an 80-year-old woman. What they say they found were two boys, ages 4 and 6, the elderly woman’s great-grandsons, living in a house filled with old food and trash.
Counselor helps children battling addictions or abuseFebruary 25, 2012
Therapist Sarah Johnson keeps candy in her office. It’s meant to counter the painful experience for children who visit. Rape. Neglect. Physical abuse.
From drug user, dealer to mentorFebruary 25, 2012
The phone call comes from a Springfield principal. It shakes Lulu Washington. Jacquline is in trouble. Someone from the school will be bringing the 15-year-old home. Lulu waits at the front gate of her yard.
Springfield clinic ensures children stay healthy, regardless of parents' incomeFebruary 18, 2012
A building that once housed a tractor supplier and then sat vacant for more than a decade is now Ground Zero for health care for the unemployed and those getting by on low incomes in Springfield.
Answers sought for child abuse in Springfield, Greene CountyFebruary 18, 2012
It seemed unanimous: the work the News-Leader has done so far on children’s safety issues in the Ozarks has at least raised awareness.
Now is the time to confront abuseFebruary 18, 2012
Most of us have a hard enough time making a plan for the next year — so it’s difficult to imagine making a plan that might need to span two or three generations.
A lifetime of healingFebruary 6, 2012
Long after the scars have healed, broken bones have mended and the situation has been remedied, the long term effects of child abuse remain. “It really is a healing process over a lifetime,” says Lisa Ellsworth, who counsels adults at The Victim Center in Springfield.
Abuse prevention resourcesFebruary 5, 2012
The Victim Center education programs 819 N. Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO 65802 (417) 863-7273 http://www.thevictim center.org/ Melinda Vacey leads age-appropriate educational programs for children and adults on child physical and sexual abuse.
Working hard toward child abuse preventionFebruary 5, 2012
It began as a very simple idea: Why don’t we prepare future parents for what we know they’ll face? Tantrums will come. Frustration with a baby’s constant crying is inevitable. Junior is not always going to be fun or cute.
THE KIDS' COPFebruary 5, 2012
Detective Fred Beck sits in the back of the mostly empty courtroom and watches as the man in the striped uniform is brought in. Beck thinks about the first time he saw the man, about a year before.
A duty to report child abuse, neglectFebruary 5, 2012
A recent examination by USA TODAY found few states prosecuting adults who are mandated to report evidence of child abuse but fail to do so. That seems to not be the case in the Ozarks.
Children advocates speak outFebruary 4, 2012
norm Ridder Superintendent, Springfield Public Schools “I believe the answer to your question is that both — there is a high (incidence) of child abuse and Greene County experiences a high volume of abuse reports.” Denise Bredfeldt Executive Director, May
Should everyone be a mandated reporter?February 4, 2012
A Missouri senator and the state’s attorney general have pushed for new legislation to make any adult who witnesses sexual abuse against a child a mandated reporter. Sen.
How to help end child abuseFebruary 4, 2012
The Child Advocacy Center 1033 E. Walnut Springfield 65806 (417) 831-2327 Donations can be made to The Child Advocacy Center in Springfield online at www.childadvocacycenter.org/support.php.
Know what to do in case of abuseFebruary 4, 2012
Q. What is abuse? A. “Abuse” is any physical injury, sexual abuse or emotional abuse inflicted on a child, other than by accidental means, by those responsible for the child’s care, custody and control,” EXCEPT:
The hidden, but all too prevalent, world of neglected kidsFebruary 4, 2012
The first time Brooke Clarkson met the 4-year-old boy, he weighed 19.6 pounds. He couldn’t talk. Four years later, he still can’t — save for a few small words. “He said my name one time, and I completely lost it,” Clarkson said.
Keep supporting fight against child abuse in the OzarksJanuary 31, 2012
I’m not a novelist, screenplay author or TV writer. My job as a journalist is to tell the truth about our community. But, at times, I wish I was a fiction writer.
Domestic violence task force's goal: Making a differenceJanuary 14, 2012
Attorney General Chris Koster assembled a task force last year with a tough assignment — to turn the tide on domestic violence in Missouri despite a dearth of money.
Domestic violence can lead to child abuseJanuary 14, 2012
Research shows a strong link between domestic violence and child abuse.
Children's play can show the way to healJanuary 14, 2012
Child therapist Kelley Jones’ playroom at The Victim Center has the usual assortment of children’s toys … a feather boa … a kitchen playset.
Many abusers use custody battles as way to seek controlJanuary 14, 2012
Domestic violence advocates say batterers sometimes use child custody proceedings as a way to continue to exert control.
Child abuse gets attention from state task forceJanuary 9, 2012
Concerns about child sexual abuse were suddenly forced to the forefront of the public consciousness as news of the Penn State scandal surfaced.
Focusing on abuse and neglect -- every dayDecember 31, 2011
Words about children are not supposed to frighten. They are not supposed to shock. They are not supposed to disgust.
Man warns teens about addictionNovember 5, 2011
Springfield fifth-graders learned about meth in March in a program sponsored by the the Southeast Rotary Club of Springfield.