Three years ago Nixzmary Brown's murder had everyone talking about child abuse and how 'the system' fails. There was no shortage of commentary about how broken the child protective system was - after all, child protection workers were already involved in the case and stated that claims of abuse were 'unfounded.' Tragically, it took a child's death to provide enough substantiated evidence - and even then the so-called parents were only found guilty of manslaughter.
Suspected abuse that is reported to child protection workers is often 'unfounded' - you can find a few such cases that I have ranted about in these blog pages. Once I reported cigarette burns on a child's legs that were determined to be 'unfounded.' Another time cigarette burns on a different child's arms were 'unfounded.' In another case I had, a caretaker was cramming food down a child's throat who could only eat via g-tube but that wasn't a problem . Having a flea-infested home with the child covered in flea bites was also unfounded in another case. I got a lot of email and attention about the blog entries on the kerosene-vapor home recently - all of which was also brushed aside as long as the parents agreed to a foster home placement. I also recently blogged about how a toddler handing over a dime bag of pot to a therapist was 'unfounded' and even the police report identified the substance as a 'green leafy material.'
Only the most severe cases ever reach the public's attention - and then the outrage lasts for a few news cycles and we all forget again until the next tragedy is splashed tabloid-like across our consciences.
Today is a good day to remember Nixzmary Brown, because it is not good enough to only pay attention when a tragedy is unfolding. We need to demand more from our child protection system, and we need to enable law enforcement and our legal system by advocating for severe punishment when a child is injured or killed.
Here is the link to the bill that is currently in the NY State Assembly - it is currently sitting in a Code Committee: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A05080
Here is the link to a nationwide petition regarding federal legislation that mandates harsher penalties for these crimes: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/nixzmary-brown-law-nationwide
If you can, please remember Nixzmary Brown today. Call your legislators and tell them that you demand more out of child protection systems and that perpetrators of child abuse and murder need to be severely punished.