In 2009, 13 year old Christian Choate was beaten to death after years of physical and mental torture by his father and step mother. He was confined to a wire dog cage for the last year of his life, not being allowed to eat, hydrate, use the toilet, play or move around. He wrote pages of heart-wrenching accounts of his suffering, wondering when an adult would come to rescue him. After dying from blows to the head, his body was wrapped in trash bags, buried and encased in cement by his father and step mother. In July of 2011, his body was finally discovered by authorities.
For ten years prior to Christian’s death, child protective authorities investigated and visited the family, most of the time concluding that they found “no evidence” of abuse and neglect. The Indiana child protective (DCS) spokesperson, Anne Houseworth claimed, “We followed all state laws, all policies and procedures.” She added, “If we don’t see evidence of abuse, and no one admits anything is going on, there is nothing for us to do.”
Children all over the country suffer the gross failure of the system to protect them, but it is only when tragedies occur, like the death of Christian, that the public becomes aware of the severity of the problem. In the interests of following protocol, even in cases when years and years of reports are made, child protective authorities refuse to remove children from severely abusive and physically neglectful environments. Terrified children rarely admit to abuse or neglect when questioned and parents are often notified ahead of time before social workers arrive.
Tell law makers to make it a felony if state child protective authorities fail to take action to protect children when more than two separate, credible reports have been made against a family or when there is strong suspicion by CPS that there is severe physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or severe physical neglect (not educational neglect) occurring in the home.
Protection can be a number of different services, such as daily in home visits from social workers to observe family dynamics over a period of time, mandatory parenting education with home observations, classes for the children teaching them about their right to be free from abuse and how to identify it, mandatory in home therapy from a team with the focus on attachment parenting education (not child behavior modification), placing the child with relatives while the parents receive treatment, placing the entire family in a “foster care” situation with a supportive family modeling healthy child care, placing the entire family in a program with a small group of other families or, in the case of chronic abuse or chronic severe physical neglect, the parents refusing to cooperate with services or in a case of life threatening torture, removal of the child from the parents.
Precious children like Christian Choate and Caylee Anthony, a four year old girl murdered in 2008 by her mother who was this month acquitted of all murder charges, deserve protection and justice. Please sign my petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/create-christians-law