Monday, June 21, 2010

Askins Pledges 'All-out war' On Child Abuse

Lt. Governor Jari Askins said Monday if she's elected governor she'll wage “an all-out war” against child abuse.

“It is an outrage that more children in Oklahoma die of child abuse per capita than in any other state and the toll appears to be growing,” Askins said.

Citing a recent report from the Child Death Review Board, Askins noted that nearly twice as many children were murdered last year than in 2008.

“It is also disturbing to learn from the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth that many of these deaths might have been prevented if the agencies in charge had responded more quickly and strongly to complaints of abuse and neglect,” Askins said.

The Commission on Children and Youth reported last week that DHS received 430 complaints of abuse prior to the deaths or near deaths of 82 Oklahoma children, an average of more than five complaints per child.

“This war on child abuse must focus on those charged with the responsibility of stopping child abuse before it becomes fatal. As governor, I will use every power I have to make sure DHS quickly and thoroughly investigates abuse reports and does whatever it takes to protect our children,” Askins said.

“I will also fight to end the statute of limitations on crimes against children and push for life-time monitoring of child molesters,” Askins added.

Askins also renewed her long-standing call for creation of a Children’s Cabinet to coordinate the work of all state agencies charged with responsibility for protecting and improving the lives of Oklahoma’s children.

“The Children’s Cabinet is a money-saving and life-saving idea that has worked well in other states but our lawmakers have resisted it. On my first day in office, I will create the Children’s Cabinet through executive order,” Askins stated.

“Caring for children and protecting them is the responsibility of mothers and fathers but, as we’ve learned so painfully, those responsibilities are not met in far too many cases. When necessary the state must act quickly and forcefully using all the resources and dedicated employees it can muster,” Askins said.

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