By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Prevention, education key to curbing child abuse
Leah Poole - photo by Courier file photo
Three-year-old Prince Davis Jr. didn’t stand a chance against his adult attackers.
According to records filed in Liberty County Superior Court, the Riceboro boy’s severely malnourished body sustained injuries over an extended time before not being able to take any more.
He was found dead on Jan. 16, 2007.  
His cousin, Andrea Wilson, 35, and her boyfriend, Corey Brown, 38, are the suspected abusers. Both have been charged with murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Keith Moran, chief deputy for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department, said the case was one of the worst cases he ever saw.
“While that was an extreme case of criminal abuse, cases to that degree are not that common,” he said.
What is common, according to Leah Poole, director of Prevent Child Abuse Liberty, are the alarming numbers of child neglect cases being reported in the county.
“Most people think that child abuse means that a child has been sexually abused in some way,” she said, “but most of the cases we see are cases that involve some form of neglect.”
“[Parents] don’t clothe them properly, feed them properly or clean them properly,” she said. “And teachers are mandatory reporters so they report them.”
In 2008, Liberty County Child Protective Services reported that the county had a total of 961 “called-in” cases of child abuse.
Two-hundred of those cases were found to be substantiated incidents of abuse or neglect.
Poole said what people have to remember is that those figures, while seemingly small, can be misleading.
“There might have been eight kids or five kids in one family,” she said. “So the total of abused or neglected children could have been more like 1,000.”
According to Poole, abusers don’t discriminate. “Child abuse is not a black or white, male or female issue,” she said. “It is a Liberty County issue.”
At times, Poole, who also sits on the county’s Child Fatality Review Board, said parents might not know they are being abusive.
“When we’re reviewing cases, we try to see where the holes are. We noticed an abundance of infant fatalities due to sudden infant death syndrome or sudden unexpected death syndrome,” she said.
“It is very scary to realize that there are children who die here.”
Education is the key to preventing such incidents, Poole said.
“We focus a lot of our efforts on the after-effects of abuse when we really should focus more on prevention,” she said.
Poole pointed out that in 2006 $104 billion was spent on the after-effects, while for every million, only one dollar was spent on prevention.
“A lot of it is education,” she said. “That’s what PCAL tries to do,” she said. “We’ve created posted notes on SIDS and SUIDS, we have a three-part prevention program called Stop It Now! Georgia, where we send our trained people out to do classes for free.” 
“We want people to know children are just little people,” she said. “They don’t deserve to hurt.”
Sign up for our e-newsletters