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Young Murder Victims

August 20, 1995

Do the people profiled in "They Have the World's Worst Job" (by Jill Stewart, July 16) really suffer through the worst occupation anywhere? Not at all. Lives are being changed and saved every day by the Child Death Review Team. These people are making a crucial difference. How many of us can say the same about our daily work?

Eileen Flaxman

Los Angeles

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In our society, an individual requires considerable education to be certified to cut hair. Yet anyone, including a post-pubescent child who has sexual intercourse, can become a parent. Perhaps we need to expend greater energy on the offspring of these unlikely parents. Soon enough, these children of children will have access to automobiles, drugs and a vast array of weaponry, and they will find creative ways to vent their rage.

Melody Platt

Venice

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If two strangers get into an argument and one strikes the other, it is assault. If you see a child being punished too severely in the market or at the park, you might be inclined to close your eyes to it, because if you confront the perpetrator you will probably be told to mind your own business. The person administering the punishment is likely to say that it is their child, charge or nephew and that they have a right to discipline the child as they see fit. And worst of all is the fear that if you confront the abuser, as soon as you leave, the child may be beaten even more severely as a response to your intrusion. The problem with our society is that no one will defend the children until Eva Heuser discovers the truth, and then it is too late.

Nikki Capshaw

Burbank

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Michael and Deanne Tilton Durfee are two remarkable human beings performing an incredibly important service. The rest of us can do our part, too. An organization called CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) helps gather information relating to cases of child abuse and makes recommendations to the court concerning the welfare of the children. I urge anyone interested in joining the Durfees' heroic efforts to get involved in this worthwhile organization so that we can put a stop to this national tragedy.

Aaron Ruben

Beverly Hills

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I was outraged to read that a baby died after several agencies had contacted his family on 52 separate occasions. As a policy aide for a Santa Clara County supervisor, I intend to ensure that a similar situation does not happen in my county. I plan on using L.A. County's Child Death Review Team and Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect as models by which to compare and, more important, prevent more deaths.

Children are the most vulnerable part of our population. The government, with the help of the entire community, is responsible for ensuring their safety and well-being.

Michele Olson

San Jose

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The Child Death Review Team has become the defender of otherwise hopeless victims of rights violations. In many instances, perpetrators would have repeated their actions.

Our child-abuse-prevention programs teach more than 5,000 doctors how to identify such abuse, offer counseling programs to families who have had to cope with child abuse, provide teen pregnancy education and services to prenatal substance abusers, and operate a data system that reports more than 30,000 cases a year.

I hope that your story hasn't appeared too late for not only the Death Review Team but also for other programs of the Child Abuse Prevention Program under the Board of Health. I hope that the L.A. County Board of Supervisors doesn't pull the plug on these very necessary programs. We have highest incidence of child-killing in the country. Can't we find the money to protect our children?

Gary Bart

Los Angeles

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In 1993, we took our 10-month- old daughter to a hospital emergency room after our licensed day-care provider told us that the child had injured her foot that day. The initial examination and X-ray was said to have revealed nothing to worry about. Ten days later, our daughter's foot had deteriorated to the point where she refused to try to walk on it (she was just learning to walk at the time). So we took her to our pediatrician, who again told us not to worry.

Later that afternoon, when our daughter began crying and heavily favoring the injured foot, my wife took her to the emergency room again. This time, an X-ray revealed that our daughter's leg had been broken in two places; there was a crack in the femur and a break in her ankle. Both injuries had been healing for at least a week.

After two hours, the local law-enforcement agency seized our daughter and took her under protective custody. Only then did the hospital tell us the results of the X-rays, indicating that we were suspected of child abuse. The saga ended happily 36 hours later. After several examinations at several hospitals, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon determined that our daughter's injuries were inconsistent with child abuse, and we were permitted to take our daughter home.

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