ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Since Victoria Martens’ death, more and more people are reporting child abuse. The Children Youth and Families Department wants people to know there are things people can do to help them better protect kids.
According the CYFD, workers take thousands of phone calls each year from people across the state reporting abuse. The calls are received at CYFD’s Statewide Central Intake center in Albuquerque.
Since the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens, CYFD said calls to #SAFE have increased.
“I think the community is really looking for ways that they can help,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson.
Jacobson said one of the best things people can do is make the choice to call in a report with as much detail on the alleged abuse or neglect as possible.
“A lot of times people think ‘it’s not my business, I need to stay out of other people’s lives,’ but what we would say is these children need you to be their voice,” Jacobson said.
In Victoria Martens’ case, a spokesman for CYFD said the three suspects accused in her murder, Michelle Martens, Fabian Gonzales, and Jessica Kelley, were not on CYFD’s radar for any physical or sexual abuse allegations.
Since Victoria’s death, Jacobson said CYFD has launched an investigation and is working with law enforcement.
But when it comes to prevention, the department also points people to the website Pulltogether.org, which outlines available resources by county.
The more abuse tips reported, the better chance CYFD claims it has to protect the state’s children.
“In an ideal world we wouldn’t need to exist,” said Jacobson. “But unfortunately right now we do, and what we need is the community’s help.”
Reporting facts such as where the alleged abuse took place, who has contact with the child, or what factors may contribute to a dangerous environment for a child can all be helpful for investigators.
“If there’s something that’s nagging in the back of your mind, and maybe they don’t ask a specific question about it, make sure you still give them that information,” said Jacobson.
In the case of Victoria Martens, the only suspect with any child abuse charges on his record is Fabian Gonzales.
Gonzales was arrested in 2014 for hitting his girlfriend as she was driving and endangering a baby in the back seat. A CYFD spokesman said the department likely didn’t hear about this case from investigators because the child was not physically harmed.
CYFD said on average roughly 35,000 calls are made to #SAFE a year. Out of those calls roughly 20,000 are screened in for investigation.