Preventing The Tragedy Of Child Neglect - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Preventing The Tragedy Of Child Neglect

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Many are wondering what should have been done after a mother is charged with murder for allegedly starving her 13-year-old son to death.

Jessica Jensen from Kenmare, North Dakota called police to her home saying her son, who was only 21 pounds, had passed away.

Jensen says her son had a feeding disorder, along with a hormonal growth problem.

Valley News Teams Kristi Larson looked into why Doctors and Child Protective Services ask for help from the community.

Dr. Carrie Brower-Breitwieser is a Pediatric Psychologist and sees a wide range of feeding and eating disorders in young children.

"We never want to make food as a re-enforcer, as a bribe, we also don't want to take it away, because food should be there for kids." Dr. Carrie says.

Every day she works with families struggling with meal time. In her opinion food, shelter and clothing are the basic necessities for kids.

"As we grow we need food for brain development, so that's why we do care when your kids are picky because we want them to have the right amount of nutrients, we want them on multi-vitamins, and when they are missing that they are missing a chance of brain growth." Dr. Carrie says.

She and other doctors are mandated by the state to report any signs of neglect.

"We as providers want to intervene as early as possible if we think this isn't a child being picky and having behavior problems, but a parent neglecting that nutritional side."

In court documents Jessica Jensen says she fed her son the morning of his death, but the medical examiner stated the stomach was empty. It also says Jensen hadn't brought her 21 pound 13 year old to a physician in years, saying she could 'solve the problems'.

And as Jensen's son wasn't in school or seeing a doctor, state human services say it's up to the community.

"Our job is trying to keep kids safe." Says Marlys Baker, Child Protection Services Administrator with the N.D. Department of Human Services. "Unless someone reports there's not a way for the social services agency to become aware. We really do rely on the community to be the eyes and ears of the system."

Marlys says they are depending on the help of doctors and the community to report neglect and abuse so communities can be a safer place for kids.

Jensen has two other children, ages 14 and 7, and is also charged with abuse or neglect of a child for not providing a proper education to the children, and based on the conditions of the home.

April is abuse prevention month. To find help about abuse prevention and Parent Resource Centers just click here

For Nurturing Parenting Programs click here.

To report a case of child neglect in North Dakota click here.

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