Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Untreated injuries
leave Puna girl in
critical condition

A 10-year-old Puna girl remains in critical condition at Kapiolani Medical Center suffering from what Big Island police described as "festering head and body wounds."

East Hawaii Juvenile Aid investigators said the child's condition was first reported on Feb. 7 by the Ainaloa family she had been staying with for the past three months.

Police are investigating the case as endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, but have made no arrests.

Big Island fire crews first discovered the child's condition when they were called to the home where she had been living with the Ainaloa couple, who police described as acquaintances of the girl's mother.

Police would not say how the girl was injured and for how long, but only that "she was not provided proper medication or attention," according to Capt. Chad Fukui of the Puna Criminal Investigation Division.

"She had those injuries for a while and they had not been treated for whatever reason," said Fukui, who added that the victim was in state protective custody.

"She needed to be placed under the custody of Child Protective Services to make sure that she does receive the medical treatment that she needs," he said.

Fukui said investigators have contacted the child's mother, who also lives in the Puna area. He did not comment on why the mother gave her child to the couple in the first place.

Mary Hyslop, director of a YMCA program to prevent child abuse in the Puna District, said the case "is probably quite rare."

"What we've seen a lot more of is children being raised by their grandparents because their parents are drug addicted or are in jail for substance abuse," she said.

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