STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – A child was found alone outside and living in bad conditions at a house in Struthers last week. While the parent is now facing charges, authorities worry the impact on the child could be long-lasting.
Childcare workers say cases like this are on the rise. Police around the area have been finding a number of cases like this recently.
“The best defense to help children in these situations is a vigilant community,” said Jennifer Kollar, with Mahoning County Children Services.
As of Tuesday night, 22-year-old Cody Shields is out of jail but charged with child endangerment after an incident last Friday on Sexton Street.
A neighbor came across his 2-year-old son wandering outside with no coat or shoes on. The neighbor called police, who were able to locate the child’s home, where Shields said he was “too busy getting high and playing video games in his room to pay attention to his child,” according to the police report.
“This is the second one in a week and third one probably since Christmas time,” said Struthers Police Chief Tim Roddy.
Inside the house, police said they saw drug paraphernalia, garbage and dog feces all over.
“I wish I could come up with a reasoning for this,” Chief Roddy said.
“We have been seeing higher than usual, you know, child endangering, child wandering, children being left alone and sometimes in deplorable conditions,” Kollar said.
In fact, there have been child endangering cases reported all around the area recently, including one in Howland last week.
Chief Roddy wonders about the impact conditions like this have on young children.
“From an early age, the child is gonna think that that’s a normal way of living,” he said.
In this particular case, Struthers police credit the neighbor who spotted Shields’ little boy and called them. With April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, caseworkers depend on people reporting what they see.
“The community is our eyes and ears. We don’t know what’s going on out there every minute of the day so we really rely on the community,” Kollar said.
For now, Shields’ son is with his mother.
Shields is due back in court next month.