Community Unites To Fight Child Abuse

Monday, May 5th 2008, 5:55 pm
By: News On 6

A second person has been arrested in connection with the death of a four-year-old Claremore boy. Police have arrested the boy's mother, Roxann Barnard, on a complaint of permitting child abuse. As News On 6 anchor Terry Hood reports, Christopher Barnard's step-father is already charged with first degree murder.

The case has sparked outrage and has many wondering what needs to be done to end child abuse in Oklahoma.

"If one child gets saved and pulled out a bad situation, we've done our job," said Claremore resident, Kelsey Wells.

Picketers lined Will Rogers Boulevard on Monday, in honor of Christopher Barnard. The four-year-old's life ended one week ago.

"It doesn't make any sense. There was no reason for it to happen," said Mark Bacon,
Christopher's Step-grandfather.

Police say his step-father admitted punching Christopher after the toddler soiled his pants. At least three times since 2006, DHS received reports that Christopher may be the victim of child abuse.

"Everybody needs to be aware of it and hold everybody accountable for it," said Bacon.

Christopher's family and friends hope other children don't share his fate.

"Doesn't matter who it is; poor, rich, doesn't matter," said Claremore resident, Cynthia Sherley.

Christopher is the third Green Country child to die under suspicious circumstances in the last month.

Skylar Roininen died in Jenks after, police say, he was hit in the head. His father's girlfriend has been charged with murder.

A week-and-a-half ago, 23-month old Marshall Card was found dead in his Chelsea home. His parents were arrested this weekend on unrelated drug charges.

According to the Administration for Children and Families, Oklahoma ranks number one per capita in the deaths of children by child abuse. Between 1996 and 2005, the number of children who died at the hands of an abuser rose by 42%.

Angela Henderson works with children removed from abusive homes. She says DHS has dropped the ball too many times in failing to protect Oklahoma children.

"The first thing I would say right off the bat is they need to pay more attention to which children they are leaving in which homes," said Angela Henderson of Court Appointed Special Advocates.

On the streets of Claremore, the hope is a little boy's tragic death saves lives.

"If this helps one child out of a bad situation, no child dies in vain," said Wells.

The state has set up a hotline to report child abuse. The number for the Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline is 1-800-522-3511.

All reports are considered confidential so it is possible to remain anonymous.

Officials emphasize state law requires anyone who suspects a child is being abused to report it.

Related Story:

05/05/08  Mom Arrested On Child Abuse Complaint
05/02/08  Father Speaks Out On Son's Death