Child abuse is claiming more young lives each year. In fact, the United States leads the world in homicides against children and youth under 15. The top three causes of death are guns, motor vehicles and child abuse.
They are images that make us want to look the other way, but many child advocates say that's one of the problems in this country, too many people look the other way when it comes to children.
The statistics are staggering. In Mississippi in the year 2000 there were 900 substantiated physical abuse cases, more than 1700 neglect cases, 110 abuse and neglect, 899 sexual abuse cases, and 74 children suffered both emotional abuse and neglect. For Sue Cherney who heads Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth, the results of child abuse are clear. In fact, more than 22 thousand children were referred to state youth courts, more than two thousand were sent to training schools, and 6,358 are under the supervision of a youth court counselor.
The two largest categories of crime are malicious mischief and assault. Sexual assault charges were up significantly for juveniles. Friday was a day to remember the children throughout Mississippi who have died from child abuse. Among those calling for more community support for children is Department of Human Services director Janice Broome-Brooks. A flag with one missing child will fly in all 50 states as a reminder of a child lost to abuse.
DHS director Janice Broome-Brooks says she is committed to fighting for and protecting the children of Mississippi. Right now she is dealing with a major shortage of socialworkers who investigate child abuse cases on the Gulf Coast and in Desoto County.