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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For at least a time, the workers could not copy and paste.
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.
Last year, workers investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect in Greene County missed more state-mandated deadlines than they met.
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.
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.
One result from the Dominic James Memorial Foster Care Act was the creation of the Office of State Child Advocate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nearly 10 years ago, Community Partnership was looked to for help in developing a coordinated mandated reporter training for Greene County.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They tend to fly under the radar, get good grades and participate in school and church activities. They have rarely been in trouble before.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Therapist Sarah Johnson keeps candy in her office. It’s meant to counter the painful experience for children who visit. Rape. Neglect. Physical abuse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Research shows a strong link between domestic violence and child abuse.
Child therapist Kelley Jones’ playroom at The Victim Center has the usual assortment of children’s toys … a feather boa … a kitchen playset.
Domestic violence advocates say batterers sometimes use child custody proceedings as a way to continue to exert control.
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.
Concerns about child sexual abuse were suddenly forced to the forefront of the public consciousness as news of the Penn State scandal surfaced.
Words about children are not supposed to frighten. They are not supposed to shock. They are not supposed to disgust.
Springfield fifth-graders learned about meth in March in a program sponsored by the the Southeast Rotary Club of Springfield.