I am “Danielle’s” adoptive mother, I was at the doctor’s office one morning while my mother in law was babysitting her; at the time, she was only eleven years old. In the waiting room, I picked up the newspaper and read the headlines: “Woman Admits to Killing Her Son”. It was an article about the confession– there were intimate details about Wendy’s life and the murder of her two-year old son. Initially, I thought it was an article about some stranger in a faraway place. As I read on, it became evident that this was MY daughter’s birth mom! This was how I discovered the details about Danielle’s previous family. I was shocked and saddened by the information!
CAPTA is a Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act; it is a law for child abuse/death prevention, along with programs that promote shelter and recovery from domestic abuse. CAPTA looks impressive on paper and the intentions of the president and representatives were to prevent the ongoing evils of abuse to women and children. The original law was passed in 1988 and has been amended several times up until October of 1996. After years of it’s stale existence, the law was revisited again in December of 2010.
President Obama signed the S.3817 the “CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010. This law now includes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) that assists women and their children who are at risk for abuse. Unfortunately, this law is not changing the statistics. Lynn Rosenthal is White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, said “Prevention efforts will help parents by addressing high risk-factors like substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence.” (Rosenthal, 2010) I’m certain Ms. Rosenthal had sincere intentions and hopes on that day the law was passed. CAPTA looks great on paper, but since the 2010 updates, there are still over 772,000 victims of abuse and nearly 2,000 children die annually. (Rosenthal, 2010)
Cameron Simley came close to death when Wendy poured blazing hot cooking oil all over his body in an attempt to kill him. Seventy percent of his body was badly burned. They had to airlifted him to a specialized hospital. Doctors, hospital staff and relatives reported the abuse to Child Protective Services numerous times. However, after months of recovery, this vulnerable child was sent home to the same mother. Within a few weeks, while the young boy was playing quietly with his toys in the bedroom, Simley put him in the crib and punched him to death! Mom killed him with her own two hands. (The Times) (Let’s hope system has improved, 2005) One year later she had a baby girl, “Danielle”, then she had two more children! These kids were tormented routinely by the same woman that killed her two year old son.
Unfortunately, no positive change has occurred after President Obama approved the updated law. At the time CAPTA originally went into effect, the number of deaths from abuse was 1.3 per day annually. Reports in 2010 show that the number of deaths are continually growing at an alarming pace: from 1.3 to 5 deaths since the beginning of this law. (US Department of Health and Human Services, nd.) A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds, more than five children die every day as a result of child abuse. (Childhelp.org National Child Abuse Statistics ) qtd. (2010). (Child Maltreatment 2009).
I am sincerely grateful for the efforts and concern the members of Congress and the president yielded by approving CAPTA along with FVPSA. We can all thank the following authorities who made it happen again in 2010 as well as the originating authorities: Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Mike Enzi, Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative George Miller, Representative John Kline, Representative Carolyn McCarthy, Representative Todd Platts, Senator Chris Dodd, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Representative Gwen Moore. Co sponsors to commended also are the following representatives: Al Franken [D-MN] Orrin Hatch [R-UT], John Kerry[D-MA],Mary Landrieu [D-LA], Mel Martinez [R-FL], and Charles Schumer.
Were the endeavors of these Congress men and women in vain? Clearly the statistics show that this law is stagnant. What changes need to be made to get this law into real action with real results? The cases of abuse and deaths climb. The current statistics are not acceptable, nor is this the outcome lawmakers intended by enacting the CAPTA law and its amendments. The purpose was to help promote and prevent child abuse and death. The federal government is handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars to each state to help fund the prevention campaigns, yet the number of deaths of a child per day are increasing. Prompt change is necessary; we all need to help rescue these vulnerable children from abuse and murder.
I’m looking for attorneys and other professionals with knowledge and motivation to help me advocate for the thousands of children here in America. Perhaps the first step would be to sue the Delaware County agencies that failed to rescue Cameron. It seems apparent that it would be easy to hold them accountable; they have no defense or excuse. By suing these agencies, perhaps the case would get major press coverage and other people from all over the U.S. will begin to share similar encounters they’ve witnessed from negligent government agencies.
I am a student at SUNY Empire State College; my daughter’s history of abuse has inspired me to get educated and prepared to advocate for children like her. She was destroyed physically, mentally and emotionally for eight years of her life before she came into my care. I adopted her when she was nine. New York authorities allowed Wendy to raise three other children after she killed Cameron. She routinely tormented the children with hot cooking oils, drowning attempts and “beat the shit out of them.” (Breaky, 2005) Danielle and the two other siblings have never recovered; Danielle is now 19 years old, but still completely traumatized and dependent. Her brother and sister have been institutionalized for years now and have major psychiatric issues.
I do not have a law degree but I do have intense motivation and communication skills. Together, we could connect with other sources that will assist us. My daughter’s case is not an isolated event; I’ve worked for Children’s rescue homes during this past decade and have seen firsthand, numerous cases of negligence by caseworkers in Child Protective Services and foster care. I’m asking you for your advice, how can a mother like me help CAPTA be more than a useless piece of paper? What do you propose needs to happen and how can I be the liaison of change?
Please contact me by email with any information, ideas, or assistance; every idea is important, I welcome your input: Daniellesmom777@gmail.com
You can read the full story about my daughter at: http://wp.me/p2jzgC-x the essay includes intimate details about her life and her current adult life activities.