NC educators work to prevent further child abuse cases

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) - A new report out this week shows where agencies missed the marks that could have prevented a little girl's death.

Five-year-old Shaniya Davis was sold to settle a drug debt, raped and killed in 2009.

Educators say they're working to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Educators say hundreds of child abuse and neglect cases come here straight to the district office.

But Shaniya's never made it this far.

And it's her case that has educators taking action.

In between showing students the basics, educators are required by law to look for something else.

"Physical abuse is pretty obvious, but many times we miss subtle signals when it relates to sexual abuse," said Pamela Story, Cumberland County School District's Social Work Coordinator.

And that's exactly what state leaders say happened right before Davis was killed.

A new report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says school leaders had concerns about Shaniya's family, but did not report it until it was too late.

"Each year at the beginning of the school year, the social workers provide an in-service training to all school staff," said Pam Story, the district's social work coordinator.

Story says they've updated policies, and have been doing more training.

And she says it's working.

Since Shaniya's death, she says more child abuse cases have been reported.

Last year alone, Story said there were close to 550 reported cases of suspected abuse or neglect that came out of the school district.

There could be more.

"This count is probably low because principals report, teachers report, anyone from the school system reports, but they don't always send in the form to our office," said Story.

Educators say that's something they're working on too, so no other students become a victim.

Educators say the district is also working with advocates and community partners to help teachers recognize signs of abuse.

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