South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Blockwatch learns process for reporting child abuse, neglect

 


A presentation from Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families (CYF) in conjunction with a monthly crime report was the focus of this month’s Carrick / Overbrook Crime watch meeting in the Concord K5 auditorium.

Following several reports of unsupervised wandering children in Carrick, Kameca Austin, an investigator for CYF, presented an overview of the process for reporting child abuse and neglect.

According to Ms. Austin, when a child abuse incident is reported, her department has 24 hours to visit the child and assess the environment. If it’s decided an investigation should occur, it must be carried out within 60 days.

Ms. Austin said while she doesn’t know the specifics of the incidents reported in Carrick with the wandering children, it’s important to know the whole story before taking action.

“Whenever you see children wandering, you can’t just assume the worst because things do happen,” Ms. Austin said. “You can’t just do a knee-jerk reaction.”

Ms. Austin also said about 70 percent of calls they answer are issues that can be resolved with neighbor or community assistance.

“We always ask if you can help people out if they need food or any other type of goods” Ms. Austin said. “We never want anyone to come into CYF because when you come in, it’s hard to get out.”

One resident raised a concern about the frequency in which parents drop their kids off at the park and leave them for extended periods of times without supervision.

Ms. Austin asked the resident to document the times in which the children are left unsupervised and report them to CYF so her team can determine if a pattern exists.

“That would fall under supervision and neglect,” Ms. Austin said. “It would have to be repeated for a prolonged period of time.”

According to Ms. Austin, human trafficking is also rampant in Allegheny County, and she instructed residents to be aware and monitor for warning signs that might indicate a minor is in danger.

Ms. Austin said to be alert for couples that look mismatched in regards to age or minors who disappear for a period of time and return with large amounts of money. Child abuse or neglect can be reported to Allegheny County Department of Children, Youth and Families by calling 412-473-2000.

Following Ms. Austin’s report, Zone 3 police officer Christine Luffey provided her monthly crime report in which she described six robberies, two assaults, two drug possession charges, one prostitution charge, and one animal cruelty incident all occurring in Carrick and Overbrook between April 4 and April 27.

“The weather is getting nicer and we are busier in the summer months,” Officer Luffey said. “Anything we can do to curb crime and reduce it, I want to do it.”

According to Carrick / Overbrook block watch organizer Carol Anthony, there has also been an increase in crime on Westmont Avenue since the block watch became less active.

“Westmont used to be our largest block watch in our whole zone,” Ms. Anthony said. “We had more people here from that street than anywhere else. When they were a very active block watch, we didn’t have any trouble at all on that street.”

Ms. Anthony encouraged residents to be sure phone numbers and contact information are kept up to date with the Carrick / Overbrook Crime Watch as well as with each street’s block watch captain.

“It is important to have a block watch on your street,” Ms. Anthony said. “It is important to stay in touch with each other.”

The next Carrick / Overbrook Crime Watch meeting is Monday, June 6 in the Concord K5 gymnasium where a CPR demonstration is scheduled to take place.

 

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