Dont hesitate to report abuse, it could save a life
Only two people are truly responsible for the abuse and death of 5-year-old Oleander Labier.
West Gresham residents Guadalupe 'Lupé' Quintero and Christopher 'Andy' Rosillo inflicted unbelievable cruelty upon the girl they were supposed to love and nourish, and they are being sentenced for their crimes this week.
But while Quintero and Rosillo bear the sole guilt for abuse of an innocent child, other people along the way may have missed potential opportunities to save this girl's life. Neighbors, relatives and friends likely were exposed to clues of the horrors suffered by Oleander. Her cries, her bruises and her broken bones should have set off alarms. They should have motivated more people to report evidence of abuse.
It's too late to do anything for Oleander, whose life was as heartbreaking as it was brief. There may still be time, however, to save other children in our community.
If you suspect a child is being abused, don't dismiss the warning signs. It is beyond most people's capacity to understand how someone could intentionally harm a child. But disbelief won't protect the innocent. Our collective denial only emboldens the abuser.
People need not be fearful about coming forward. Reports of abuse are kept confidential. Here are numbers to call if you suspect abuse:
• Gresham's child welfare office - 503-674-3610.
• Multnomah County's child abuse hotline - 1-800-509-5439.
(Callers do not have to speak English or leave a name.)
• For life-threatening emergencies - 9-1-1.
Another option is to report your suspicions to a doctor, police officer, nurse practitioner or teacher. By law, they are required to notify higher authorities of any potential abuse.
The important thing is to take action. When someone believes a child is being harmed, the only real mistake is to stay silent.