“DHS panel urges cooperation to help prevent child deaths” (News, April 5) reported that a special committee reviewing the Department of Human Services' role in child deaths offered recommendations, including better cooperation among agencies involved in child abuse cases and more training. This reminded me of a similar study, commissioned in 1988 by then-Gov. Henry Bellmon, that came to the same conclusions. From it, multidisciplinary teams were formed and training was formalized under the Child Abuse Training and Coordinating Council (currently under the Health Department).
About that time, centers were taking shape to spare children from repetitive interviews about their abuse and to provide a place for teams to collaborate on cases. Since then, other attempts to try to increase collaboration and training have occurred, such as the Ryan Luke bill in 1996, passed after Ryan Luke died following his return to an abusive environment, and a similar case involving another little boy, Shane Coffman, whose body was found in a freezer. This law required training for judges. It lifted the DHS veil of secrecy surrounding child abuse deaths as it pertained to previous reports of abuse.
So here we are, 25 years later. More child deaths. Another commission. Another study. Similar conclusions. It's easy to issue reports. It's harder to turn ideology into reality. I hope this latest report will spur bold, innovative measures and strengthen the steps that have already been taken. The lives of children are depending on it.
Ann Larson, Edmond
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