DFCS alone cannot solve the problems of child maltreatment and related fatalities, however. Georgia’s child welfare system does fail. Experienced and trained workers sometimes miss or respond improperly to red flags. But DFCS is only one aspect of the continuum of child protection. Child protection starts with each one of us. Jonathan, Terrell, Kyshawn, Bryan and hundreds of others had relatives, teachers, neighbors and other adults around them who had the opportunity and responsibility to intervene. Our elected and public officials are also part of the child protection system. The call to action requires that we act boldly within our roles and systems to ensure all children are safe and connected to families and communities.
Deaths from child abuse and neglect are preventable, and we have a shared responsibility to prevent them. We must insist that data on child fatalities and serious injuries be analyzed well and shared outside of government. We must be willing to act on what we learn, beyond just satisfying ourselves with more criticism of the system. We must exercise our courage on behalf of children in our families, schools and communities, and we must require public investments and priorities that will keep all children safe.
We must rally this time. The cost to children, their families, society, and our humanity is too great to allow our resolve to ebb again.