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Speak up to save kids

The most effective protectors of children are off duty now. They are the school teachers who so often alert the authorities about abused and neglected youngsters.

That places a special burden on the rest of us to keep our eyes open and, if we see something, to say something to law enforcement and/or child protective services agencies.

Last week, Belmont County sheriff’s deputies arrested two men and two women after making a “welfare check” on a home in Bridgeport. Four children, ranging in age from 1-7 years, were removed from the home. They were taken immediately to a hospital for treatment.

Sheriff Dave Lucas said all of the youngsters were covered in lesions and sores. He added that the home was filthy, with insects present — and indications of illegal drug use.

In addition to the child neglect charges, both men arrested face other counts. One is a fugitive, according to the sheriff’s department. The other is charged with various offenses — including failure to register as a sex offender and having a weapon under disability.

What took deputies to the house? Lucas did not explain, but it certainly appears some good Samaritan became aware the children were at risk and called the sheriff’s department. People living in such circumstances do not ask for visits from law enforcement, after all.

When teachers or other school personnel worry that a child may be in danger, they alert superiors, who call police or sheriff’s departments. It happens all the time.

But when school is out for the summer, those guardian angels are out of action. The same is true for children who have not reached school age. Had someone not alerted Lucas’ department, who knows what would have become of the children in that Bridgeport house?

As we have written several times, no one likes to appear to be a busybody, sticking his or her nose into someone else’s business. But when children are in peril someone simply has to do something.

If you become aware of a situation that may be putting youngsters at risk, pick up the phone and call your local law enforcement agency. A quick check by police or deputies will disclose whether your concern was merited — and you may save children from severe harm.

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