13 years since boy’s death, work continues to prevent child abuse

SAN ANTONIO – He was a little boy, tied up and starved, who collapsed while walking to the tree Christmas morning.

It’s been 13 years since the death of Jovonie Ochoa shocked the community into action, and the work to prevent child abuse continues.

Child advocates gathered on the city’s south side Tuesday evening and paused to remember the youngest victims of abuse.

They sang Christmas carols and made sure their neighbors have the tools to prevent tragedy.

“Jovonie Ochoa died on Christmas Day 13 years ago,” State Senator Carlos Uresti remembers.

Jovonie was only four years old. He weighed just 16 pounds.

“Starved to death by his grandmother,” State Sen. Uresti says. “She tied him to his bunk bed by his wrists and ankles and duct taped him, and systematically over several months starved him to death.”

For the lawmaker, the tragedy was a call to action. Since Jovonie’s death, the state has reformed Child Protective Services and the city has rallied behind awareness campaigns.

But State Sen. Uresti cautions as long as children are still being abused, “our work is never done,” he says.

Former CPS caseworker Carrie Wilcoxson is now part of the Blue Ribbon Task Force to prevent child abuse.

“We want our families to be able to find and identify resources easily and not be overwhelmed in that process,” she says.

The task force transformed its website, BlueRibbonTaskForce.com, into a one-stop resource. It breaks down challenges that lead to child abuse and connects families with help.

As they sang Christmas carols, task force members passed out fliers in south side neighborhoods with information about the website.

“This is about prevention. This is about getting way ahead before anything tragically happens,” Wilcoxson says.

So no child suffers the same unimaginable abuse as little Jovonie.

By Emily Baucum, News 4 San Antonio
Source: http://news4sanantonio.com/news/local/13-years-since-boys-death-work-continues-to-prevent-child-abuse

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