Florida statute

The following is the definition of child abuse according to § F.S. 39.01:
A child whose physical or mental health or welfare….. is harmed, or threatened with harm, by the acts or omissions of the parent....inflicts, or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or mental injury..which includes injury sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment....sexual battery….exploits a child...abandons the child…. “physical injury” means death, permanent or temporary disfigurement, or impairment of any body part… “mental injury” means an injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernable and substantial impairment in his ability to function within his normal range of performance and behavior, with due regard to his culture.

Florida Statistics

In a child population of over 4 million, there were 33,612 substantiated reports of child abuse in Florida during the year 2010.

Information from "Child Maltreatment 2010"

Victims of Child Abuse - Florida

There were over 50,239 confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect in Florida in 2010.

Information from "Child Maltreatment 2008"

Ethnicity of Victims in Florida

In Florida, the largest group of abuse victims is White (47.9%), followed by African-American (29.7%), and then Hispanic (17.0%).

Child Fatalities

In 2010, fifty-one states reported a total 1,537 fatalities. Neglect accounted for 32.6 percent, physical abuse accounted for 22.9 percent, and medical neglect accounted for 1.5 percent of the child population. These children were smothered, slammed down on asphalt, beaten, shot, and some drowned while unsupervised.

Child fatalities are the most tragic consequence of maltreatment. Collecting accurate data regarding fatalities attributed to child abuse and neglect is challenging and requires coordination among many agencies, including child protective services, law enforcement, the medical examiner’s office, and the judicial system. A determination that there has been a homicide and that the cause was child maltreatment can take some time to finalize.

Age and Sex of Child Fatalities

More than 40 percent (47.7%) of all fatalities were children younger than 1 year, 14.0 percent were children age 1 year, 11.6 percent were children age 2 years, and 6.1 percent were children age 3 years. Therefore, 79.4 percent were younger than 4 years old. 11.1 percent were between the ages of 4 and 7 years, thus indicating that the majority of children who die from child abuse or neglect are young children (figure 4–1).

Race and Ethnicity of Child Fatalities

More than two-fifths (43.6.2%) of all fatalities were White children. Nearly one-third (28.1%) were African-American children, and nearly one-fifth (16.6%) were Hispanic children. Children of American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and multiple race categories collectively accounted for 6.1 percent of fatalities. More than 5 percent (5.5%) of children were of unknown race.

Perpetrator Relationship

Four-fifths (79.2%) of child fatalities were caused by one or more parents. Thirty percent (29.2%) of fatalities were perpetrated by the mother acting alone. Child fatalities with unknown or missing perpetrator relationship data accounted for 8.3 percent.

Maltreatment types of Child Fatalities

More than 40 percent (40.8%) were caused by multiple forms of maltreatment. Neglect accounted for 32.6 percent and physical abuse for 22.9 percent. Medical neglect accounted for 1.5 percent of fatalities.

In 2010, there were 180 child fatalities in Florida alone.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Procedures for Child Abuse Reporting

An abused child is defined as any person under 18 years of age who has been subjected to willful or negligent acts which result in: neglect; malnutrition; sexual abuse; physical injury; mental injury; or failure to provide sustenance, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment.

1. Reporting Procedures
a. Any person, including, but not limited to, physician, nurse, teacher, social worker, or employee of a public or private facility serving children, who has reason(s) to suspect or believe that a child has been subject to child abuse, shall report or cause reports to be made to the Department of Children and Family Services, Single Intake, or the State of Florida, Child Abuse Registry, Tallahassee, Florida.
b. All alleged reports of physical injury to students by Board employees must be immediately reported to the
Division of School Police for investigation. The Division of School Police will be responsible for
reporting these incidents to Children and Family Services.
2. Personnel willfully failing to report or cause a report of a complaint of child abuse when brought to their attention will
be subject to disciplinary action.
Taken from : The School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida, (1998)

Brianna Lee is a Florida child who knows first hand about abuse and neglect.

http://www.fiu.edu/~cat/photos/childanddad.jpgOn September 10, 2003, Brianna Lee's mother, Dakeysha Telita Lee, was arrested by Jacksonville police for aggravated assault and petty theft. As the police handcuffed her and took her away, she failed to inform them about her daughter, home alone.
For 19 days, Brianna was left alone in an apartment, where she struggled to stay alive. Only two years old, Brianna ate dried pasta, ketchup, cheese crackers, brownie mix and jelly.
Ogden Lee, Brianna’s father, grew worried when he was unable to contact his estranged wife, Dakeysha. After repeated attempts to contact her, he called the Jacksonvillle jail hot line and found out that she was in jail. He visited Dakeysha in jail, who told him that she left Brianna with a babysitter who lived in the same apartment complex, but could not remember exactly where. Ogden Lee spent the night knocking on apartment doors, trying to locate the babysitter. Finally, he asked the manager to let him in to his wife's apartment. When the door was opened, he was shocked. Inside he found his daughter, naked, wrapped in a towel, covered with dried ketchup and jelly.

http://www.fiu.edu/~cat/photos/child.jpgThe apartment was described by police as in a shambles, with food, several piles of feces and urine throughout. There was broken glass and a broken drawer in the kitchen. The refrigerator, which was hard to open, was almost empty. The only thing in the fridge was a jug with barely a drop of water. Apparently, Brianna had been drinking water from the toilet bowl. In the master bedroom, there was more filth. On the floor, near the television set, dried ketchup was found. Around it, there were children's toys scattered among canned goods and food -- rice and uncooked pasta.  The mother's bed was also unrecognizable. Next to the bed, there were also feces from the child. Sheriff Rutherford of Jacksonville said the toddler is quite the scrapper. "She was able to rip labels off corn cans trying to open them for food.”
Apparently, a neighbor heard the television playing from the apartment on the same channel for days, but did not contact the police.
Brianna Lee was taken to a local hospital for an examination and was reported to be in good condition, despite her nightmare.

Legal Charges
http://www.fiu.edu/~cat/photos/smmother.jpgOgden Lee was granted temporary custody of Brianna with some supervision by the Department of Children & Family Services (DCF). DCF is reviewing the child's situation to determine where she should be placed permanently.

Dakeysha Telita Lee was charged with child abuse because she didn't let anyone know her daughter was left alone in the apartment. However, this is not the first time DCF has investigated the mother. Reports indicate that Dakeysha Lee has been investigated at least three times in the past. All three times, the case was closed with a finding that the child was not at risk.

Photo Credits:
First Coast News, http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/news-article.aspx?storyid=8634