Oklahoma statutes define child abuse as the harm or threatened harm to the health, safety, or welfare of a child by that child’s responsible guardian or parent, including non-accidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, or neglect.
Altus Police have arrested a couple on charges of child neglect.
Ashley Alvarado, 21, and Mauro Rodriguez, 26, were arrested Friday after investigators made contact with the couple on an unrelated investigation, according to a report from Police Chief Tim Murphy.
During the investigation, police discovered marijuana use and drug paraphernalia in their home in the 1300 block of North Crain Street in the presence of a two-year-old child. Police believe the child was present during drug use.
Alvarado was arrested on a charge of child neglect while her boyfriend, Rodriquez, was arrested on charges including child neglect, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled dangerous substance within 1000 feet of a Department of Human Services Child Care Facility, located in the 600 block of West Bradford Street.
Alvarado and Rodriguez are currently being held at the Jackson County Jail and are waiting for their initial appearance in Jackson County District Court.
The signs of child abuse or neglect are not always obvious. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services singles out certain behaviors that might signal abuse or neglect.
If a child is abused or neglected, he or she may show sudden changes in behavior or school performance, have difficulty concentrating or other learning problems that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes, act watchful as though waiting for something bad to happen or overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn, and may come to school or other activities early and stay late.
More apparent signs would be a lack of help for physical or medical problems that the parents know about and a lack of adult supervision.
These children may be frequently absent from school, beg or steal food or money, lack needed medical, dental, or other specific needs; exhibit poor bodily hygiene, lack sufficient clothing for the weather, or state there is no one at home.
Though, these signs may not signal abuse or neglect, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services encourages those who suspect it to report that concern to local child protective services such as the Department of Human Services or local law enforcement.
The two-year-old child living at the residence was taken into the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, according to Altus Police.