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When child welfare efforts fail, death can follow

Every state has some system to address issues of child welfare. Some states handle the task more effectively than others. A lot of the disparity in that regard may have to do with the laws on the books.

State agents are only authorized to provide the services specified by the legislation passed by lawmakers. However, legislation is always subject to interpretation and it isn't unusual for individuals to follow the interpretation that best serves their needs or desires.

What can happen then, though, is that the law may be applied in arbitrary ways depending on the case and the agent involved. And where there is lack of consistency, there may be violations of rights. This may be a particular issue in cases of alleged domestic violence. 

Where such violent crimes are alleged, there is always a victim. Most often, someone has likely suffered physical or mental abuse at the hands of a perpetrator and seeks the law's protection through a protective order or other relief. But, because authorities tend to presume the truth of claimed violence, the rights of those who are accused may be trampled upon.

To ensure that everyone's rights are protected, the help of the court is often required. 

Perhaps the most innocent of victims in matters of domestic violence are children. And, according to a recent story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the state of Georgia is one state that comes up short in the area of child welfare.

The paper looked at more than 2,200 child deaths recorded from January 2011 to July 2013 and found that about 25 percent of the deaths were due in some measure to the negligence or recklessness of adults. The implication of the story is that the state should have been able to do more to prevent the fatalities.

Dozens of deaths occurred when children sleeping with parents were suffocated. Some children died in fires after they were left home alone by parents. In 11 cases, the recorded cause of death was accidental drug or alcohol ingestion. In one case, the victim was 33 days old.

State officials told the paper they have adjusted their policies and practices in recent years to try to do more to prevent such deaths.

Source: AJC.com, "Dozens of Georgia children die despite state intervention," Alan Judd, Oct. 20, 2013 

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