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Serious Red Flags Missed in Death of Hollywood Boy: Florida Child Abuse Lawyer

South Florida child abuse attorney and child sexual abuse lawyer Howard Talenfeld was interviewed this week on CBS News regarding the case of 3-year-old Ahziya Osceola. The Seminole Indian boy was discovered abused and dead in his Hollywood home after his family had reported him missing. Now, charges have been filed against his father and stepmother – and questions have been raised about how child protective service providers CHildNet, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families failed to communicate with one another to ensure Ahziya was safe.

As was made clear in the reporting and Talenfeld’s interview, Ahziya’s case was well known by various organizations. But the sharing of information critical to ensuring his safety was “inconsistent and insufficient.”

“These agencies don’t talk to each other. They get the important red flags, important information that can save a child’s life,” said Talenfeld, president of Florida’s Children First, a leading statewide child advocacy organization and a pioneering children’s rights attorney. “They know what’s happening in a home. If they collectively got together we would save so many children.

Ahziya is the latest in a long line of children who have died while under the care of department of children and families. As has been written here previously, true horror of Ahziya’s story is that his tale is nothing new. The first report of abuse came in 2013. The fourth and final report came this year. He was known to be at-risk. He was left vulnerable to his abusers.

Whether at the city, county or state level, all too often those charged with protecting children overlook or ignore signs of abuse. Children die or are injured. Then officials who descend upon the case to “investigate” find signs of abuse overlooked.

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