Category Archives: CBS 6 – WCTV

Task Force to Stop Child on Child Sexual Abuse

WCTV

Child on child sexual abuse touches and troubles the lives of thousands of children each year and the state of Florida is launching a new effort to stop it.
Reporter: Tara Herrschaft

New research by the Justice Department shows more than a third of sex crimes against children are committed by other children.

The Florida Department of Children and Families identified more than 8300 children as either alleged perpetrators or victims of child on child abuse from 2008 to 2009.

And officials say it’s critical to respond immediately. “Because many of the children that are abused at some point could later become abusers,” said Alan Abramowitz, the State Director of the Family Safety Office for DCF.

The death of 7 year-old Broward County boy Gabriel Myers has sparked the DCF Secretary to form a task force. Myers was sexually abused by a 12 year-old boy and killed himself back in April. He was also on psychotropic drugs, which officials believe may have been another contributing factor. Now the group is holding hearings around Florida, gathering feedback to prevent future crimes.

“A lot of times we don’t know particularly how to react to it. Either in the law enforcement side, the parental side, or the social worker side. So we’ve got to do a better job of preparing parents and in our case, foster parents with dealing with these issues. We’ve also got to do a better job of making sure the support systems are in place. Because it takes specialized psychological and emotional services to be able to deal with the child who’s been victimized and equally important to deal with a child who’s the victimizer,” said Jim Sewell, the Special Assistant to the DCF Secretary.

The first hearing was a couple weeks ago, and there will be about five more. The Tallahassee meeting is scheduled for March 11th. Organizers are planning on submitting a report of their findings and recommendations to the DCF Secretary and then the legislature.

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Florida Foster Kids Overmedicated


CBS 6 – WCTV

Reporter: Whitney Ray

The suicide of a seven year old Florida foster kid has state lawmakers enraged and looking for answers. Gabriel Myers was on several mind-altering medications when he hung himself in Broward County this April.

No one knows what was going through seven year-old Gabriel Myers head when he decided to hang himself on April 16th. But experts believe the foster kid had nowhere to turn, and his actions were influenced by a slew of prescribed drugs. State Senator Ronda Storms is heading a committee in search of answers.

“I can’t accept or believe that a little child can’t be reached after terrible things have been done to him, except by drugging him, and drugging him, and drugging him,” said Storms.

Gabriel’s death spawned an investigation, uncovering an alarming trend. Three thousand, or about 15 percent, of Florida’s foster kids are being prescribed mind-altering medication. There are even kids in the system as young as two years old on the drugs.

Robin Rosenberg is a foster parent and advocates for children. She says part of the problem is foster kids rarely have stability and they switch doctors frequently.

“If the child is in a group home for example there will be a therapist that is attached to the group home. The say the child goes to live with grandma, that therapist doesn’t follow the child as the child goes to Medicaid and the community,” said Rosenberg.

The Department of Children and Families is responsible for the care of foster kids. Still many rights, like signing off on a doctor’s prescription, remain in the hands of the biological parents.

“Parents will sign anything when a child is being taken away. I don’t think that is the appropriate gauge,” said DCF Secretary George Sheldon.

State Senators are considering requiring a third party to approve any prescriptions being given to foster kids. The senate committee will also consider legislation to improve communication between psychiatrists, who prescribe drugs, and psychologists, who counsel patients. Lawmakers believe opening the lines of communication between the doctors will lead to more counseling and fewer prescriptions.

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