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Jhessye Shockley tragedy all too common in AZ

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A CBS 5 Investigates review of Child Protective Services documents shows at least 17 young children died at the hands of their own parents in Arizona in the past 11 months.

Those deaths occurred in near silence, when compared to the high-profile case of Jhessye Shockley, the 5-year-old girl who was reported missing by her mother in October of last year. On Thursday, Glendale police arrested Shockley's mother, Jerice Hunter, in the child's murder.

"Certain stories hit the news and everyone seems to grasp onto those case and they get a lot of attention. Meanwhile, we do this job and hear about child deaths and horrific cases of abuse every single day," said Kristi Murphy, the clinical director at Child Help.

Murphy said across the country, five children die every day as a result of child abuse.

"It is an epidemic because just a couple of years ago, only three children were dying every day and that number is continuing to grow," Murphy said.

In Arizona, the deaths that occurred over the past 11 months included:

  • A 2-month-old with a skull fracture
  • A 1-year-old who was beaten and starved
  • A 1-year-old left to die in a closet
  • A 2-year-old with 87 lesions and massive internal injuries

Many of the cases had similarities. Most victims were under the age of 1 and suffered physical abuse. Most of the parents were in their early 20s.

Murphy said some of the deaths were likely preventable, if the parents had reached out for parenting help, anger management or drug abuse treatment.

Those services have all seen cuts, as a result of tight state and local budgets.

If you need help with parenting or know of a child who is at risk of abuse, you can reach a counselor at Child Help by calling 1-800-4ACHILD.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5   (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Sidebar: Jhessye Shockley

Updated:

SPECIAL SECTION: Missing Jhessye Shockley SLIDESHOWS: Search for Jhessye INTERVIEW: CBS News' Donna Rossi's exclusive interview with Jhessye's mother Jerice Hunter FLIER: Jhessye was reported missing

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