System needs major fix to protect children: Florida attorney

Friday, October 23, 2020
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

law booksAn attorney handling a sexual assault case involving an infant says the child protection system in Florida needs to be revamped to protect the welfare of children.

It's a tragic child welfare case. A three-week-old girl was placed in a home in the Ocala, Florida, area with a couple and their 16-year-old son who had sexually assaulted children. The boy raped the infant. Attorney Stacy Schmerling of Justice for Kids explains to OneNewsNow that Florida privatized the child protection system over 20 years ago – so every county now has multiple agencies doing what one central agency used to do, along with a high personnel turnover.

"And with that you have a bunch of different bureaucracies, so to speak, and everyone points fingers at each other when something goes wrong …. There's no accountability and children like our client slip through the cracks," she laments.

Schmerling

The attorney continues, saying there's been an epidemic of child-on-child sexual abuse in Florida for decades.

"Unfortunately, in this case the rules and safeguards that should have been implemented for a child who had a known sexual issue or was known to be sexually aggressive … weren't followed," she shares. "And if they would have been followed, this tragedy could have and should have been prevented."

Schmerling maintains that the system must be fixed and that the Florida legislature needs to take the lead. Justice for Kids has filed a lawsuit in order to seek justice.

As for the three-week-old victim, Schmerling would only say the youngster will have significant hurdles to overcome because she did experience significant trauma; and Schmerling expects the baby will have problems as a child and as she reaches certain milestones in her life.

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