Monday, March 16, 2009

Lead Toy Testing Recap

Since December, the City Attorney’s Office has sponsored eight successful lead toy exchanges at sites across the City of Los Angeles. Because there are no safe levels of lead, City Attorney prosecutors have worked tirelessly to protect Angelenos from the dangers of lead in the home, and in consumer products.

Toys that were found to contain lead were exchanged for a $25.00 American Express gift card. At the testing in February, over 250 cards were handed out in exchange for dangerous toys.

Lead has been listed since 1987 on the Governor's list of chemicals that can cause reproductive harm and birth defects, and since 1992 has been on the list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Exposure to lead occurs chiefly from ingestion, such as eating or putting objects into the mouth, putting young children particularly at risk.

Impacts include birth defects, learning disabilities, hearing loss, reduced attention span, and behavioral abnormalities. Teenagers also can suffer adverse effects, which include brain damage, kidney damage, hearing loss, and impaired growth.

Again, our thanks to our partners in this effort -the Healthy Homes Collaborative, the Center for Environmental Health and other community-based environmental advocacy organizations.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Reporting Child Abuse

FOX 11 recently did an exclusive story profiling the bravery of two 17-year olds who reported witnessing the abuse and molestation of an 11-year old victim – who also reported the crimes. The witnesses and victim all courageously testified in court, helping prosecutors from the City Attorney’s Office secure a conviction on multiple counts of child molestation.

The Defendant was sentenced to 48 months of probation and 60 days in the County jail. He must also enroll in 25 sessions of counseling for compulsive sexual behavior, register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, pay a $300 fine, and stay away from the location of arrest. A protective order was issued for the victim.

The Defendant lived at the same apartment complex as the victim in the South LA area. He was known to offer the neighborhood kids candy, chips and soda, and as the only tenant with cable TV, often attracted children to his apartment who wanted to watch television.

On August 22, 2008, the victim was walking by the Defendant's apartment when she was lured inside with candy. The Defendant grabbed the victim by the arm, sat her on his lap, and molested her until she broke free.

Two female witnesses who also live in the building saw the molestation through the apartment window and notified their older sister, their parents and the apartment manager. They subsequently spoke with the victim and encouraged her to tell her parents who then notified the police.

It is well established that child abuse greatly increases the likelihood of adult criminal behavior. Abuse and neglect often leave our children with long-term emotional, psychological, and physical damage. These kids join gangs, turn to drugs and alcohol, and then, more often than not, abuse their own kids when they become parents.

In Los Angeles County, the number of child abuse reports has soared to more than 160,000 annually.

Children who experience abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile.

Childhood abuse and neglect increase the likelihood of adult criminal behavior by 28% and violent crime by 30%.

More than 68% of adult male felons were victims of child abuse and neglect before the age of 12, with 64.5% experiencing physical abuse.

To report any suspected molestation or child abuse, please call LA County DCFS Child Abuse Hotline, toll free within California: (800) 540-4000.