Half of homicides among DCFS-involved kids are under the age of two

Half of homicides among DCFS-involved kids are under the age of two

It really shocked me when I read this statistic: Of the cases in which the state was involved, half of the child homicides in the last decade were kids who were under the age of two.

Maybe it's because I'm a mom now, or maybe it's because my own son, Teddy, hasn't yet reached his first birthday.

It's hard to think of babies as victims of homicide. But that's the reality.

It's not the only thing that's hard to read in our current investigation, Dying for Attention. Reporter Maria Zamudio  found that between fiscal years 2000 and 2011, 223 children were killed after the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had investigated their cases for alleged abuse or neglect. In two-thirds of those case, the child's caregiver was the one who committed the homicide.

I've had lots of friends and colleagues tell me that it was too hard to read, and I understand that. It's incredibly tragic that children are dying, especially since we know someone was warned about their situation. Maria herself wrote an eloquent piece about how difficult it was to interview families who've faced these deaths and write about such a sensitive topic.

But as I look at Teddy, I know I don't have the luxury of just moving on. There are children out there who still need us to pay attention, to bring their stories to light.

Officials claim they're doing the best they can, under the circumstances.

But the possibility of more babies' lives being cut short? I don't know about you, but that's just not something I can ignore.

Photo credit: Joe Gallo

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