Fair Start Movement is petitioning Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, as well as state officials, to consider the possibility of an unusual order in the event an Indiana couple is convicted of child abuse or neglect.
In mid-April 2018, the Department of Child Service, in response to multiple anonymous phone calls, removed four children from a home in Greenfield, Indiana occupied by Christopher Smith and Chantelle Oliver. According to court records, Smith allegedly engaged in regular physical and verbal abuse of the children including punching and slapping them, grabbed the children by the hair, and smacking them in the face. Per DCS records, the children were, at first, afraid to talk to investigators, fearing for their own safety. One child stated that Smith once pushed her head into a wall, causing her nose to bleed. Smith was arrested and charged with multiple counts, including three felony counts of domestic battery on a person less than 14 years old. He has denied harming any of the children.
Fair Start Movement is urging state officials to consider a Fair Start court order, in the event of a conviction, temporarily prohibiting the couple from having additional children during the pendency of any probation in order to facilitate the couple’s rehabilitation and recovery, and also to prevent the neglect of any future children.
“We waiting for kids to be abused, rather than preventing the abuse” said Anne Green, Executive Director of Fair Start Movement. “It’s time to change the way we plan families” The model Fair Start order is noncoercive and seeks to strike a balance between the rights of parents and the needs of future children and the community.
In 2016 alone, there were 28,430 victims of abuse or neglect in Indiana, an increase of 7.7% from 2015. Even more alarming, the number of fatalities as a result of child abuse and neglect more than doubled in Indiana in 2016 to 70 deaths (from 34 in 2015), making Indiana have the unfortunate distinction as the state with the highest percentage of increases in child-abuse-related deaths in the country.
Take action: Tweet Gov. Holcomb at @GovHolcomb and politely ask him to consider our request.