A tragic and preventable death

A tragic and preventable death

The New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) are responsible for children’s safety when reports of neglect and abuse come to their attention. Excuses for their shortcomings are typical, citing a lack of oversight, continuing employee vacancies, and significant leadership turnover.

One such leader recently resigned after testimony that revealed the concealment of the actual number of maltreatment instances. The CYFD’s overall pattern of ignoring abuse and neglect clearly has casualties. One, in particular, has resulted in legal action against them.

Abuse reports go unnoticed

The estate of a boy who died due to a fatal beating in 2019 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD). A man living with the boy’s mother has been charged with child abuse resulting in death. Autopsy results revealed that the child experienced years of mistreatment.

Ten reports to the CYFD reporting the boy’s abuse before he turned one year old was not enough. The first three that occurred before he turned one were also ignored. Investigators sent to the home and finding the frightened boy hiding under a staircase, claiming that his mother’s boyfriend did result in action.

However, he was placed with relatives, not in the CYFD’s care. The mother brought him back home. Two months after a visit to the ER with severe injuries and claims that his abuser was touching him inappropriately, the boy was dead.

Tragically, he is only one of a shocking number of abuse and subsequent fatalities.

According to the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, the state ranks second in the nation for repeated child maltreatment. In addition, deaths of children due to abuse in 2020 doubled 2019 numbers.

Oversight mechanisms outside the CYFD, particularly from the Child Fatality Review Board (CFRB), should continue the flow of data and the abuse trends. However, the CFRB hasn’t bothered to release a report since 2015. Following the revelation, the board promised to release 2021 data.

Six years too little. Six years too late. Mainly for one boy and countless other children who continue to suffer in the silence of those responsible for protecting them.

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