A candle light vigil was held in Fresno in honor of child abuse prevention month.
Child advocates say when it comes to child abuse "there's no one cause and no one cure". The vigil is just one step to create awareness.
As the sun set over Fresno another light began to shine. It started small, but began to grow as more than 50 people gathered to reflect. “Tonight, we are here to remember all of those children that have died and also to honor their memory and take action,” says Assembly Member (D) Henry T. Perea.
The light of the candle is a promise from state leaders, advocates and parents to protect the Valley's children from child abuse. “We need to take care of them and care enough to get involved so we never have to burn a candle for those children,” says Lisa Casrez a Fresno social worker. Or cry tears for another life lost. “Cases like Seth Ireland are examples of children who slipped through the cracks and no action being taken as a result of those,” says Perea.
The County responds nearly 18,000 cries for help each year. “We have to protect our kids at any cost,” says Perea.
To begin the quest, Assembly Member Perea is asking the community to sign their name in support. Two bills are now pending. “Believe it or not, it’s not against the law for sex offenders to live in child facilities, group homes and foster care homes,” says Perea.
A 2011 audit revealed 1,000 sex offenders were living near or in childcare facilities. One of Perea’s bills aims to prevent it, make it a misdemeanor. It would also require name and location checks to make sure sex offenders aren't near the facilities.
Perea’s other bill “would require county agencies to provide a child death review when a child dies in custody of a CPS agency”.
The first steps to help protect the faces of those looking up to adults to protect them.
Of the 1,000 sex offenders found to be living in or around child care facilities, 600 were considered high risk. Here in the Valley, 4 sex offenders were immediately removed from facilities after the information
Child advocates say when it comes to abuse don't only look for outward signs. If you suspect it, look for a personality change in the child and talk to them about it.
Christina Lusby Reporting.