Child advocacy group details ‘failure’ to protect Thomas Valva from abuse
Child advocacy groups say there was failure in the system that was created to prevent child abuse in the wake of the guilty verdict in the Angela Pollina trial.
Pollina was found guilty of murder in the death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva.
The Safe Center, a Nassau County-based organization that protects victims of family violence and sexual assault, says there needs to be a change in the systemic response to child abuse so similar cases do not happen again.
"Unfortunately, child abuse and neglect is something that happens nationwide, and it is in fact here on Long Island," said the center's director of education Jennifer Rowland.
Pollina and her ex-fiancée, Michael Valva, were both convicted of second-degree murder and child endangerment charges for abusing his two sons after they forced them to sleep in their freezing Center Moriches garage.
Autopsy reports showed that Thomas died of hypothermia.
Members at the Safe Center say more work needs to be done and that no guilty verdict will bring back the 8-year-old boy.
"People want to blame [Child Protective Services], people want to blame the courts, people want to blame the parents. There is a lot of fingers pointing going on. However, we have to realize there is a system in place here that is made to protect children. Where was the breakdown? Where was the failure in this case?" Rowland says.
She says people need to spread awareness on child abuse prevention. Everyone needs to know the signs of abuse.
Rowland says within the last year, the Safe Center has helped at least 5,000 families in Nassau County. When calls come from Suffolk County, they will work with other state and local agencies to provide more resources for those families.
If you need to report an abuse case, you can reach out to the Safe Center's website.