Symposium Sheds Light On Child Abuse, Neglect

Jan 31, 2014

Students from NMSU’s Criminal Justice honor society, Alpha Phi Sigma, were not the only ones gathered at a recent symposium on child neglect.

Marco Ortigoza is the president of the society’s local chapter.

“Not only students but professionals can… learn from each other.”

Lynn Cuellar is an instructor of Family and Child Sciences, but she's also a marriage counselor at a local church.
She gave insight on where child abuse can start…right at home.

“Substance abuse factors and financial problems…even just things like…mental health issues.”

Detective Kacee Thatcher with the Las Cruces Police Department enters many of those homes to find evidence of abuse. Here's what it looks like.

"Sometimes we’ll find evidence of drug abuse…evidence of domestic violence going on in the home.”

The law says child abuse is so grave a crime, the public is required to report it.

“Failing to report child abuse is a crime…punishable up to a year in jail.”

As the Program Director for the Southwest Region National Child Protection Training Center at NMSU, Susan Samuel trains everyone, suspicion of abuse is just as important.

"Once they suspect…they will make that report and could save the life of a child?"

Samuel says even though she tells as many people as she can to report suspicion of abuse to police and Child Protective Services, child abuse needs more attention.

"We are at the point now where we have to look at what have the successful groups been in terms of mobilizing people to make change?"