Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Abuse Awareness Month is April of each year. It must be noted that designating a month to educate the public to the dangers and horrors of child abuse and predatory behavior does not mean that parents and the general public can simply feel empowered and invulnerable for the remaining eleven months of the year. Diligence is required with regard to our children at all times, something that seems to have been lacking in the case of 5-year-old Nevaeh Buchanan. She is still missing. It has been a week since the little girl disappeared from in front of her Charlotte Arms home in Monroe, Michigan.
So why the reference to sexual abuse awareness? Three persons of interest have been arrested in association with the case, two of whom are sex offenders. One, alleged to be the boyfriend of Nevaeh’s mother, Jennifer Buchanan, was arrested on suspicion of violation of his parole. Police are investigating whether George Kennedy’s relationship with Jennifer Buchanan was such that they were involved in something a little more than casual or that he was in a proximate distance of the child, either of which would constitute a violation of his parole.
The Detroit News reported that bloody clothing and a knife were found after police searched Kennedy’s apartment following his arrest, but lab results indicate that the blood was not that of Nevaeh Buchanan. The news was no doubt a relief for those searching for the 5-year-old
Roy Lee Smith, another sex offender, has been arrested and boxes of evidence have been removed from his residence for testing.
A third man, James Easter, was taken in for questioning Saturday and was being held on arson charges. Easter’s yard was dug up by officials acting on a tip.
In addition to the arrests, authorities announced Sunday that they were looking for two young boys who may have seen something Sunday, May 24, at the playground where Nevaeh was last seen. They were described as being between 7 and 10 years old and law enforcement officials are hoping to speak with them as potential witnesses.
There exists the possibility that Nevaeh Buchanan was abducted by not only someone she knew but someone that she knew who was also a sexual predator, an offender that her mother knew was a sexual offender. It is reported that Jennifer Buchanan knew Roy Lee Smith as well.
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) estimates that of the 1530 children that died in 2006, the number that died due to neglect and sexual abuse were underreported. This is due to inaccurate data files, miscoding of the cause of death, the coding of death as SIDS because of inexperience or convenience, etc.
Parental education and awareness with regard to child abuse and learning the warning signs of predatory behavior becomes a child’s first line of defense in abuse prevention. In the case of Nevaeh Buchanan, awareness of the proximity of sex offenders was not the problem. Her mother knew that two of her acquaintances were sex offenders.
Nevaeh Buchanan may not have been kidnapped and/or sexually abused. There is always that hope. But much points in the direction that the 5-year-old might have been. And she may have been preyed upon by an acquaintance or acquaintances of her mother who chose to ignore the fact that her circle of friends included sex offenders.
Awareness does not matter if the knowledge is willfully ignored…
For child abuse news and prevention resources, see Child Abuse Watch (AbuseWatch.net).