Father's indictment in 3-month-old's death sparks awareness of child abuse-related deaths

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - In light of the recent indictment involving a man who is suspected of severely injuring his 3-month-old daughter, several in the community are heartbroken over similar cases nationwide.

Arthur Martinez is accused of striking 3-month-old Melanie Martinez with his hand, and an unknown object, and then striking her against an unknown object.

“It is heartbreaking, you know?” said one of Martinez's neighbors, who did not want to be identified. “Prayers go out to the families and everyone involved because I am sure it is not easy for everyone to deal with that.”

The neighbor said she is more devastated to know this is a reccurring issue across the country.

“It hurts to see these kids have to suffer that way because there are many people out there that would love to have children but can't, and they see these kids being hurt this way,” the neighbor said.

Leslie Wood, director of education and community response with Children Bereavement Center of South Texas, said cases like this can be very difficult to cope with for everyone in the family.

“We recognize that family is still grieving,” Wood said. “Even though the way it may have occurred isn’t very comforting, there are others in that family that are still mourning.”

Wood said she is very thankful for the resources across the county and the city for fighting to crack down on abuse-related child deaths.

“There is no magic answer where we can say, ‘Tomorrow, we can just do this and the problem is solved,’” Wood said. “These resources are working to put the necessary sources in place to prevent deaths like this from happening.”

She said it can be even more devastating if the death caused to a loved one is by another loved one.

“It can cause a lot of difficulties and the dynamics become very (skewed) because of the circumstances of the loss and who was involved,” Wood said. “Some family were not involved or do not know all of the information or were not present. I do think in these cases, we need to figure out what happened, but the focus needs to stay on supporting those that are grieving their loved ones, especially if that loved one is a child and has siblings in the home, because those kids are going to need a lot of support.”

Child Protective Services said nine children died from abuse in Bexar County in 2018.

The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System states that as of 2016, 1,750 children died from abuse, which is up 7.4% from 2012, and 70% of child fatalities involved children younger than 3 years old, with 44% of all the fatalities in 2016 being children younger than 1.

Wood said there are resources that families who are going through these losses or challenges can utilize at https://cbcst.org/.

“So often, we go about our day and lives and keep our head down and take care of our own business. I feel we need to reach out more to our neighbors. Check in on them sometimes, because it is difficult to ask people for help. It is hard for a lot of people to ask for help sometimes, and a lot of times, you don’t know where to ask for help. We just need to be more involved with each other.”

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