The searchers found Jonathan Sturdy at 9 o’clock on a cold Saturday night. The 2-year-old’s body, face down in a drainage canal, seemed to bring his disappearance earlier that day to a simple, if tragic, resolution. Except for this: Jonathan hadn’t drowned. He was dead when he entered the water.
The story you're reading is premium content from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Subscribers get total access to all our in-depth news, digital editions and exclusive premium content. You can now also buy a 24-hour digital pass or 7-day digital pass.
AJC Print subscriber - I've already registered my account.Sign In
AJC Print subscriber - I need to register my account for digital access.Access Digital
Read MyAJC.com now - 24-hour digital pass99¢ for 24-hours
Read MyAJC.com all week - 7-day digital pass$3.99 for 7-days
Subscribe to AJC for as little as 33¢ per dayView Offers
WHO MUST REPORT
Under threat of criminal prosecution, Georgia law requires certain people to report their suspicions of physical or sexual abuse of children to the state Division of Family and Children’s Services. These “mandatory reporters” include:
- Medical professionals, such as physicians, dentists and nurses.
- Psychologists, social workers and other therapists.
- Teachers, school administrators and other educators.
- Law enforcement officers.
- Employees and volunteers at facilities that perform abortions.
Failure to report suspected abuse carries penalties of as much as a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
For years, DFCS has accepted abuse or neglect reports only through its 159 county offices. One county office would not accept reports alleging maltreatment in another county. By next spring, the agency will operate a statewide call center to take maltreatment reports.
HOW WE GOT THE STORY
Late last year, Georgia’s child welfare agency released its first-ever report on the number of children who died despite intervention by its caseworkers. In 2012, the Division of Family and Children’s Services said, 152 children died under such circumstances.
DFCS also released heavily edited summaries of 86 of those deaths that concealed the names of deceased children and their families and most narrative information about how they died.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s examination of those cases is based largely on other public records, such as autopsy reports, police files and a database of death certificates.