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Opinion: Once again, we’re wondering how the abuse of children could have gone on for too long

Members of the media work in front of the Perris home of David and Louise Turpin, who were arrested on suspicion of torture and child endangerment.
Members of the media work in front of the Perris home of David and Louise Turpin, who were arrested on suspicion of torture and child endangerment.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: So now we have a list of people and agencies denying responsibility for failing to suspect that 13 children, some of whom are over 18, were imprisoned and starved in their middle-class community. (“In Perris, a house of horrors hidden in plain sight,” Jan. 17)

Neighbors, extended family, state education officials — let’s absolve them all of responsibility for the sake of argument. Doesn’t the fact that we read these horrific stories fairly regularly show we have a child protection issue? Or have we not come far from the 19th century view of children as the parents’ property?

As a licensed clinical social worker who started her career working with abused children — and as a civilized human being — I am incensed that we’ll spend so much energy not on prevention but on figuring who did and did not know about the prolonged abuse of someone’s children. Surely there are many experts in this country who could create a national child support system so that a nurse, social worker or trained education official could intervene in a situation like this one.

If a civilized society is to be evaluated based on how it treats its most vulnerable members, we have failed.

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Renee Lonner, Sherman Oaks

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To the editor: Allow me to preface this letter by stating that I believe the only individuals who should face consequences for this tragedy are the parents for the abuse and neglect they allegedly inflicted on their children.

That said, all of us need to do our part to prevent another child from experiencing similar or other types of abuse or neglect.

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If you see something or suspect something, say something. Call your local child welfare agency if you suspect a minor is being abused or neglected. You do not have to know for sure, as it is up to the agency to conduct an investigation.

Contacting a child welfare agency is not a bad thing for the reporter, a caregiver suspected of abuse or neglect, or the children. If there is no suspicion of abuse or neglect, the investigation is concluded and closed.

Please remember, it truly does take a village to raise a child.

Wesley Williams, San Bernardino

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