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Underreporting of abuse statistics another sad commentary on DHS

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: October 18, 2011
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/articleid/3614376/1/pictures/1538903">Photo - A memorial is set up in front of an apartment on East Drive for 5-year-old Serenity Deal, who died after suffering physical abuse. Police arrested Deal's father, Sean Devon Brooks, 31, on complaints of murder and child abuse on Monday, June 6, 2011. Photo by Zach Gray
A memorial is set up in front of an apartment on East Drive for 5-year-old Serenity Deal, who died after suffering physical abuse. Police arrested Deal's father, Sean Devon Brooks, 31, on complaints of murder and child abuse on Monday, June 6, 2011. Photo by Zach Gray

Yet after discovering the mistake, DHS apparently never felt it necessary to clearly set the record straight with the public or with the agency's oversight commission.

DHS also chose not to inform the federal government that 154 children had been abused or neglected in state shelters and group homes during 2009. The government says those figures should be included in states' reports. DHS contends it doesn't have to include them; indeed Oklahoma is one of 14 states that exclude them.

DHS officials also say the different standards states use to compile their abuse and neglect statistics make state-to-state comparisons unreliable. Perhaps, but the agency was happy to issue the December news release touting what it saw as a high national standing based on statistics.

This episode is a sad commentary on an agency whose importance can't be overstated, but whose job performance apparently can.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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