- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Tulsa County has seen a sharp increase this year in the number of child-death cases in connection with alleged abuse or neglect.

The Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1Snbjdy ) reports that the Department of Human Services has launched investigations into 10 such cases since Jan. 1. Last year, Tulsa police investigated nine child-abuse death cases.

Rose Turner is managing director of the Child Abuse Network, an agency that serves as coordinator for the multiple agencies that interact with children of reported child abuse. She said it was “traumatizing to see this level of increase.”

“We have child deaths every year, but to have at least one or two each month has been kind of a shock to everyone in the system,” she said.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler noted that the increase is carrying over from last year.

“The last 12 to 14 months have been terrible. I have never seen anything like this in my career,” he said. “Almost every three weeks, there is a child being taken to the hospital with traumatic injuries who dies in the hospital. It’s alarming.”

Kunzweiler said a common thread in many of the cases is a child being in the care of a mother’s boyfriend.

It can take years for the Department of Human Services and other agencies to thoroughly review cases before declaring that a child’s death was caused by abuse or neglect. The most recent data of cases that have been substantiated and confirmed by the medical examiner is from 2012, when Tulsa County had six confirmed child deaths related to abuse or neglect.

Past years showed similar results in the county. There were three abuse or neglect child-death cases in 2011, seven in 2010, 11 in 2009, seven in 2008 and seven in 2007.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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