The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 4, 2013

Protecting children is 'everyone's duty'

Following child-beating death

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— The recent death of 5-year-old Gregory Caver — an Anniston boy whose parents are accused of beating him to death because he wet his bed — sickened Alabamians and others throughout the nation.

A local child advocate says the crime should do more than that.

It should remind us to look for and report signs of abuse in the children around us — whether they are relatives, neighbors or friends of our children, said Susan McGrady, executive director of the Athens/Limestone Childrens Advocacy Center.

“The reporting of child abuse and neglect involves the entire community,” she said. “There are people who work with children every day who do not realize that they are legally bound as mandatory reporters.”

Under Alabama law, the following people are required to report incidents where a child under age 18 is known or suspected to be a victim of child abuse or neglect: hospitals, clinics, sanitariums, doctors, physicians, surgeons, medical examiners, coroners, dentists, osteopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, nurses, school teachers and officials, peace officers, law-enforcement officials, pharmacists, social workers, day care workers or employees, mental health professionals, members of the clergy, or any other person called upon to render aid or medical assistance to any child.

“I would encourage everyone over the age of 18 to read the reporting law,” McGrady said. “Know what it says. Follow the law. Don’t be the one who looks the other way. Protecting children is everyone’s duty.”

Don’t rely on others to report

McGrady said many times people rely on the direction of others when it comes to reporting.

“If a person suspects abuse, they do not have the burden of proving the abuse,” she said. “They do have the responsibility of reporting their suspicions to duly-constituted authorities — the Department of Human Resources and law enforcement.

“If your place of employment has a policy on reporting to superiors, follow that procedure,” McGrady said. “Then make the call to the authorities yourself. Unless your supervisor is a law enforcement officer or DHR authority, you must make that call yourself.”

There are legal consequences to not reporting.

“A good rule of thumb is this,” she said. “If you suspect child abuse or neglect, call the authorities.”

You can report anonymously.

“It is important that the reporter never interview the child or gather details from the child before reporting,” McGrady said. “This ‘extra’ questioning could interfere with the investigation. There are people trained to talk to these children. All a reporter needs is suspicion and the child’s name or address.”

The CAC is located at 413 Hargrove St. in Athens. The telephone number is

256-444-1800 and the email is limestonecac@gmail.com.