Tucson child advocacy group addresses abuse cases - Tucson News Now

Tucson child advocacy group addresses abuse cases

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

As the community mourned over the death of a 3-year-old boy whose remains were found in a south side home, one child advocacy group said steps could be taken to help families that experience or witness child abuse.

Tucson-based child advocacy group, Casa de Los Ninos has been in the community for the past 40 years and works with at-risk families that are vulnerable to abuse.

The discovery of Roman Barreras' body in a toy chest had his family members in shock and wonder over how such abuse could have gotten that far.

Casa de Los Ninos CEO Sue Huhn said she has seen child abuse cases rise 45 percent in the last two years and attributes much of it to the recession in 2009, which slashed funding for crucial services like Child Protective Services, subsidized child care, health care and cash assistance.

Huhn, who collaborates closely with CPS, said addressing child abuse can be a complex issue that hinges on sufficient funding and resources.

CPS has been overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases they see and isn't always equipped with the tools to fix the problem, according to Huhn. But the public can help address child abuse by reporting anything suspicious.

"The biggest thing for the public at-large, is never to hesitate to act because no one is expecting anyone to know for sure what's going on. But if anybody has that what I call the gut feeling, then follow it up with a report. Leave it up to the professionals to vet out whether it was warranted or not," Huhn said.

Huhn said the majority of child abuse cases rarely lead to death and the greater number of cases she sees are linked to neglect.

"They're not like the case where the child is physically abused, or sexually abused, or even killed. Those are rare cases, fortunately. 80 percent of reports coming in are chronic neglect and that means families are struggling. They are poor, they have unstable housing, they don't have child care, they don't have regular food on the table," Huhn said.

Other warning signs include signs of family members isolating themselves,  Huhn said.

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