Public needs to look out for child neglect

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Child neglect and abuse are often the collateral damage of poverty, family instability or other problems such as drug abuse.

Parents and guardians become so impaired or distracted by their own problems that they lose sight of the care they should be providing for their children.

Local law enforcement saw that again this week when Child Protective Services called West Virginia State Police to a mobile home in Ona. Four children, ages 4-8, were found in squalid conditions and removed for medical evaluations and to live with another relative.

Officers reported the home was surrounded by bags of trash, and it was filthy and insect-infested inside. The children were sleeping on a couch, with only pop and junk food in the kitchen. The only usable bathroom was mildewed and full of gnats.

But the severity of the situation was apparently lost on the 27-year-old mother, who blamed the problems on the children and their unwillingness to pick up after themselves. She was arrested and charged with four felony counts of child neglect.

Unfortunately, problems of neglect are anything but rare in our region. West Virginia agencies handled more than 35,000 reports in 2012 and found reasons to take some action in about half of those cases, according to the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The total referrals per 1,000 children is among the highest in the country, almost double the national average…

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