Omaree, BreAndra, Izabellah, Leland.
Their names – and their faces – represent the pervasive child abuse and neglect problem that makes New Mexico a place where it’s not always easy – or safe – to be a kid. For those four children, it was deadly.
Facts laid out in a special two-part series by Journal investigative reporter Colleen Heild are startling and unsettling:
- Nationally, since fiscal 2010, New Mexico has been in the top six states for child abuse and neglect deaths per 100,000 children.
- Since FY 2008, New Mexico consistently has ranked near the top among states for the revictimization of children within six months of a substantiated abuse or neglect case.
- Since FY 2008, 79 New Mexico children have died from child abuse or neglect. One fourth of their families had previous contact with the Children Youth and Families Department, the state agency charged with protecting children.
- In FY 2012, nearly 1,800 children were placed in foster care in New Mexico. More than 85 percent had been named in at least one prior CYFD report and 26 percent had seven or more prior reports.
- Children victimized in New Mexico rose nearly 20 percent in recent years, while national victimization rates declined.
- The state was at the top among roughly 30 states that reported the percentage of child abuse victims’ caregivers who were at risk for alcohol or drug abuse.
New Mexico is infamous for being at the bottom of good lists and at the top of bad ones: teen pregnancy, addiction, DWI, poverty, education and more.