With news of missing Detroit boy, Charlie Bothuell V, dominating the media it is rather poignant that Detroit is set to host a commission on child abuse this August. The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF), which was created in 2012, held its first public meeting earlier this month in San Antonio, Texas. The national committee was started as part of the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 to create recommendations to reduce fatalities resulting from the mistreatment of children.
There are 12 members of the commission, half selected by the president and the other half selected by leaders of the House and Senate. The meeting in Texas allowed the cohorts to gather for the first time to hear insights from over 20 representatives of organizations and policy makers that deal regularly with the issues of child abuse and neglect. David Sanders, Committee Chairman, indicated Texas was an important location to hold the first meeting because the state has the most deaths from the mistreatment of children even though the numbers are in decline.
When the commission is held in Detroit in August, the host city will surely provide insight into obstacles and challenges for law enforcement when dealing with child abuse. Given the fact that the Bothuell boy was found barricaded in the basement of the same home that had been searched several times before during the search, Detroit law enforcement representatives will likely have unique perspectives and highly relevant insights on steps that can be taken to remove or avoid impediments to detection and prevention of future child abuse situations that might ultimately lead to fatalities.
It should be noted that, although there are a host of suspicions, Detroit Police Chief James Craig says there are no definite indications of child abuse or neglect at this time. The child’s stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, was arrested on Thursday but for a probation violation unrelated to Charlie’s disappearance. Charles Bothuell IV, Charlie’s father, was notified that his son had been found during a live interview with HLN’s Nancy Grace. He seemed genuinely upset and indicated that he had searched his home repeatedly, as had others, and he did not understand what could have happened to allow for his son to be discovered there.
Regardless of the results of this particular case it has brought much attention to the topic of child abuse throughout the country. As Detroit and the rest of the nation evaluate various this situation it is sure that one of the many topics of concern will be how an instance of a missing child relates to the problem of child abuse. Among questions to consider may be whether all parents of missing children should be investigated for indications of child abuse, and if so, how high the bar should be set before parents are cleared of suspicion.
CECANF will have its next public meeting in Tampa, FL, this July, followed by Detroit in August and Denver, CO, in September. The general public and members of the media are welcome to participate in the public meetings and can gain additional information at the CECANF website. As for Detroit, hosting this commission in August should bring new ideas on not just the prevention of fatalities but on child abuse in general.
By David Morris
Los Angeles Times
Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities