For more than 18 agonizing months, Becky Wekenborg said she suspected her young daughter was being repeatedly molested by a family member, but numerous hotline calls to the Missouri Children’s Division had failed to bring protection for her child.
In call after call — including one made by her daughter’s pediatrician — the state agency said it would not substantiate the complaints. It took several rejections for Wekenborg, of Jefferson City, to understand the inaction.
The Children’s Division had no firm legal authority to directly intervene with her daughter, 4, because the alleged abuser was just 7 years old.
“I incorrectly assumed if you have a child being abused in any manner, you can call the Children’s Division and they will come out and help your child,” she said. “By doing so, I failed my child.”
It is becoming common knowledge that most child sexual abuse is committed by someone the child knows. But another reality of child abuse remains relatively taboo: some of it is perpetrated by teens or younger children.
Now, two bills moving through the Missouri Legislature aim to give state child abuse investigators more power to investigate and intervene regarding “problem sexual behaviors” committed by minors under 14