Crimes are either by commission or omission. When it comes to cruelty to children, one can either commit abuse by harming a child or fail to act as required and be guilty of neglect. One may consider neglect to be a lesser type of crime, but it’s been found that neglect actually is at least as fatal as abuse, and usually causes more fatalities.
Joining Justice Clearinghouse to talk about the prosecution of child neglect cases are Roger Blevins and Frankie Grimsman. Roger is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner certified by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. He has Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Nursing and specializes in child maltreatment. Meanwhile, Frankie is a deputy county attorney in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office prosecuting domestic violence, child abuse, and sex crimes. Her career focus has been child crimes, specifically medical abuse, neglect, and abusive trauma to children and infants
Topics they discussed together in this session are:
- Statistics and studies that highlight the danger of neglect in children.
- The Children’s Bureau’s findings that neglect is as fatal as abuse.
- The Child Abuse, Neglect and Cognitive Function study that concluded how both abuse and neglect are associated with lower cognition and academic functioning.
- The Adverse Childhood Experiences study that found correlations between abuse, neglect, and other household dysfunction in children to future health conditions and diseases in adulthood.
- Austin’s case: A three-year-old developmentally delayed boy who suffered severe neglect from guardians.
- A look into the events that led to him being brought to the emergency department due to severe dehydration.
- The grave findings revealed after being provided with medical attention and conducting investigation.
- Considerations when charging the neglect case, specific aspects used to prove neglect and how it impacts the victim, and other concerns that can impact witness testimonies and case outcome.
- Unpacking the elements to take into account when investigating and prosecuting a child neglect case.
- The critical medical records that will help establish the child’s health and medical condition before, during, and after the incident and post-treatment.
- The concept of refeeding syndrome that must be explained to the court so they may comprehend the child’s weight and recovery trend when they first come into care
- Reviewing normal child growth and development and contrasting this with the victim’s to demonstrate the impact of the abuse on the child in terms of height, weight, strength, and abilities.
- Working with a medical experts who can explain to the court the dangers of neglect, the level of neglect seen in the case, and both actual and potential consequences to the victim.
- Accommodations to extend to medical experts who are dedicating their time to the case.
- The value in getting a forensic interviewer who specializes with children to get statements from young victims and witnesses and ensure there isn’t undue influence.
- Obtaining forensic interviews with those who witnessed the neglect or may provide details on how the victim was treated.
- Ensuring to thoroughly document through photographs which may be used as evidence to support the case.
- The importance of working with advocates and local child protection agencies to keep updated on the developments on the victim.
Questions from the audience were about:
- The sampling selection for the studies mentioned.
- Patterns of abuse and common red flags.
- The possibility that lower cognition may not be a result of abuse or neglect but is the cause of parental frustration.
- Protocols when retrieving confidential medical records.
- Specialized forensic interviewers for kids.
- Best practices when capturing photographs for these cases.
- Looking into the potential animal cruelty that maybe transpiring alongside the child abuse.
- How social workers can assist in child neglect cases.
This is part of a 3-part series:
- Part 1 Medical Aspects of Child Neglect
- Part 2 Understanding Sexual Abuse Examinations in Investigation and Prosecution Efforts
- Part 3 The Prosecution of Child Neglect Cases (this webinar)
- “What was interesting to me was how important certain aspects of information are to make a child neglect case hold up in court. I hadn’t thought of a picture of the other children to compare to the victim’s picture could be such a help to show the difference in how one child was abused and the other was not. Excellent webinar! Thank you!” — Abby
- “Very important to know and understand how Child Neglect/Abuse cases are prosecuted.” — Beverley
- “I enjoyed seeing things from the prosecution point of view.” — Chelsea
- “Loved the case study and such practical information.” — Jayme
- “Very good information on things we might miss to look for initially when investigating. Thank you! Great webinar!!” — Jennifer
- “How the right evidence and information can greatly assist you in your case. In addition to more individuals available to interview to gather information about the case, which I wouldn’t have thought of before.” — Lawna
- “Many need to be involved in a successful prosecution. A complicated and difficult endeavor but necessary and worthwhile.” — Mary
- “I appreciated all the insight from the perspective of law enforcement, as I am on the social worker end of things and do not see everything that goes on from their side of things. It was very educational and informative. Thank you.” — Stacy