by Senator Carlos Uresti
One of the better aspects of our humanity is to search for any good that may come from tragedy. With the recent death of 7–week–old Jada De La Rosa, the people of San Antonio are left to search once again.
Perhaps it is too soon to find solace here. Like the Christmas Day starvation death of Jovonie Ochoa almost six years ago, shock, anger and dismay grab our attention.
But eventually hope did spring from Jovonie's death, in the form of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, a renewed effort to raise public awareness about the evil of child abuse and neglect in San Antonio.
Since 2004, task force volunteers and advocates have knocked on doors in some of the city's toughest neighborhoods, offering support, advice and information on a range of community services available to struggling families. We have taken the fight against child abuse into our churches, businesses, hospitals, and the halls of the state Capitol in Austin.
While great strides have been made, Jada's death shows us that the battle is not won. The tragic circumstances of her short life - poverty, substance abuse, the inexperience and immaturity of teenage parents are variations on an all–too–familiar theme. Clearly, more must be done to attack the root causes of abuse and neglect.
As it did with Jovonie, once the community's pain subsides, some good could yet spring from Jada's short life. There is reason to hope.
In the 81st Texas Legislature this year, I authored two new laws that, if properly implemented and followed, could make the world safer for at–risk children.
Senate Bill 2080 takes the Blue Ribbon Task Force statewide. This new panel will take a hard look at how state government, local agencies and law enforcement address child abuse, the strengths and weaknesses in our approach, the resources at hand, what works and, perhaps more important, what doesn't.
Senate Bill 1050 requires Child Protective Services to be more forthcoming in the public disclosure of findings and information about children who die from abuse or neglect. By turning up the spotlight on these cases and making sure the public knows what life was like before the deaths of these young victims, the scourge of child abuse will be laid bare for all to see, and we will gain information that is vital to further reform.
Neither of these measures, alone or together, will completely end the epidemic of child abuse and neglect. No policy or program can do that. As Jada's death showed, as did Jovonie's, child protection is a community–wide responsibility shared by all. It is a watch that requires constant vigilance.
So as San Antonio mourns the death of another child who never really got a chance at life, let us strengthen our resolve and commitment to children. Thousands more in our city and across our state live in circumstances similar to Jada's. For them, we must transform the pain we feel for her into hope and action.