Kids Kottage Executive Director Speaks About Recent Child Abuse Case
Two Edmonton parents are accused of neglecting and abusing their twin two-year-old daughters. Both children are severely malnourished. One is on life support.
"It’s a very disturbing case of child abuse," says Edmonton Police Service Communications officer Scott Pattison. "Given the ages, 27-month old twin girls, obviously that has an emotional impact on investigators and everybody else involved in the case."
Police say the mother called the girls’ father, who then called EMS on May 25th. When paramedics arrived at the home in the Blue Quill area, just off Saddleback Road, they found one of the twins with a head injury and in cardiac arrest, and the other with numerous injuries.
"They found the one girl in cardiac arrest, and they successfully revived her, and took she and her sister, the other twin girl, to hospital," says Pattison. "At that point in time... medical professionals found the injuries on both girls were consistent with abuse and contacted EPS CARRT team, child at risk response team."
Doctors who assessed the twins found them to be severely malnourished; one weighs just 13 pounds and her sister 16 pounds.
"Certainly, as a parent myself, I would say that it’s very disturbing anytime you have any age of children that are involved in any sort of child abuse," says Pattison. "But certainly, when they’re that young, that vulnerable, by all appearances, their weights were 13 and 16 pounds, I think on average 2 1/2 year old girls should weigh around 26 to 27 pounds at that age, so obviously there’s been neglect involved as well."
The parents have been charged with aggravated assault, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failing to provide the necessities of life. Their names cannot be released to protect the identities of the children.
Neighbours are shocked and saddened by the news. Many told Global News the family kept to themselves, and the little girls were not seen often, if at all.
"It was only the boy. He was about toddler's age," says one neighbour. "I didn't really see the two girls...even my mom was surprised that they had two girls."
He describes the family as "very isolated. They didn't interact with anybody. They kept to themselves."
Another neighbor, Connor, says "the fact that it was like right there. It's difficult to understand. It's really sad."
Sylvain also lives in the area. He says "it's hard to hear kids will be malnourished and not taken care of...my daughter has seen the kids once only, and that family has been there about a year-and-a-half to two years."
Police say a third child, a young boy, was unharmed, and has since been taken into foster care.
Lori Reiter is the executive director of Kids Kottage. News of the investigation has taken her aback.
"I was just... I’m sad, and I’m just a little bit overwhelmed that in this city, people felt that they couldn’t get help before things came to that kind of a place," she explains.
Kids Kottage offers a 24-hour support service to parents who need immediate support or respite when faced with a crisis. Staff can care for children for up to 72 hours, and also identify and implement plans to solve or mitigate the issue of the crisis.
"It makes you feel just disappointed, and disillusioned," Reiter admits. "What does it take to get this message out there?"
"I’m so sorry that they didn’t call, 944-2888, we could have helped them."
Kids Kottage offers services like a 24/7, 365 Crisis Nursery, FASD Respite, basic food security programming, and other helpful services. Reiter says, when parents know about the foundation, they’re usually quick to make use of its resources.
"Generally, we find that parents are pretty quick if they know that this crisis nursery is here, they will phone. They’re the ones that know things are going wrong, their children aren’t being parented the way they want to parent them... there’s a thousand things that can go dreadfully wrong in a family."
She doesn’t know the details of this particular case, but Rieter says "there are lots of reasons, I can imagine, why this family didn’t reach out for help."
She just hopes this horrific incident prompts others to seek help before it gets to such a dire point.
"Whether or not it’s just a parenting issue, or very, very heightened stress, or whether it is a family violence issue, this is a resource for you, and we can help in all of those instances."
EPS Homicide investigators have taken over this case, given the one twin’s life-threatening injuries. The parents have been remanded into custody where they’ll remain until their next court appearance on Tuesday.
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