THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

N.H. praised for child abuse disclosure law

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Norma Love
Associated Press / April 29, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. - Eight years ago, 21-month old Kassidy Bortner died after being horrifically beaten, including being thrown into a closet door, by her mother's boyfriend, Chad Evans.

Evans and the mother went to prison. He was convicted of second-degree murder; she of child endangerment.

But the story did not end there.

Four years after the toddler's death, lawmakers passed the Bortner Law, which requires the state to disclose what it knew about fatal or near-fatal child abuse cases in which state agencies had some oversight over the family.

The state can withhold the information for reasons including protecting siblings, but it must explain itself in writing.

Supporters hoped it would prevent future tragedies.

Today, two leading child advocacy groups, First Star and the University of San Diego School of Law's Children Advocacy Institute, will give New Hampshire one of only two A grades for its child abuse disclosure policy, a policy traceable directly to Kassidy Bortner's death.

The groups flunked 10 states, including Vermont, and gave most of the others poor marks. They said that inadequate policies on releasing information precludes the public scrutiny that often is necessary to reform or beef up child protection efforts.

Nevada received the other A. Twenty-eight states received a C+ or lower, including Maine, which got a D+.

About 1,500 children die annually in the United States as a result of child abuse and neglect, the groups said.

The New Hampshire law inspired by Kassidy's death has not yet been used.

"There haven't been child deaths that fit within this circumstance," said Nancy Rollins, associate commissioner for the state's Health and Human Services.

Rollins used to lead the state's Division for Children, Youth, and Families, whose social workers investigate child abuse reports. Rollins said the law strikes a balance because the state can withhold the information if it would traumatize the child or the child's siblings or compromise prosecutions or other pending legal efforts.

The written explanation of why information was withheld in a given case must be provided to the person seeking the information.

The groups said all 50 states receive federal funds under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. To be eligible, states are supposed to have provisions that allow for public disclosure of findings or information about abuse and neglect cases that result in death or life-threatening injuries.

more stories like this

  • Email
  • Email
  • Print
  • Print
  • Single page
  • Single page
  • Reprints
  • Reprints
  • Share
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Comment
 
  • Share on DiggShare on Digg
  • Tag with Del.icio.us Save this article
  • powered by Del.icio.us
Your Name Your e-mail address (for return address purposes) E-mail address of recipients (separate multiple addresses with commas) Name and both e-mail fields are required.
Message (optional)
Disclaimer: Boston.com does not share this information or keep it permanently, as it is for the sole purpose of sending this one time e-mail.