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DCF: Too much child sexual abuse goes unreported

The Department of Children and Families says a six-year-old girl and her sibling are in safe care, after the child's mother traded her off for sex to get drugs.

"You know in my seven and a half years with DCF, we've never seen a case like this."

DCF Spokesperson John Harrell says they owe it to the little girl to do a thorough investigation.

"But we want to make sure that the child does not have to recount what happened to many times."

They're making sure the child gets all the counseling she needs. But...

"There's a lot of child sexual abuse that goes unreported. That's unacceptable."

And reporting it is required by law. If you suspect something is going on, call DCF at 1-800-96-ABUSE.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • There’s a new push to help veterans get STEM jobs after they finish their service. John Harris III spent eight years in the Army as a diesel mechanic.  “We work on the military equipment that is assigned to the unit ... we make sure the vehicles are ready for deployment,” Harris said.  He’s been living and working in Jacksonville for the past five years.  On Tuesday, Action News Jax told him about a new bill called the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act.  It would help veterans reenter the work force and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.  It would also update scholarship programs to include veterans.  The bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Marco Rubio and Amy Klobuchar and passed in the Senate last December.  On Monday, it unanimously passed in the House of Representatives.  Senator Rubio sent out a statement Monday night saying: “This important bipartisan bill to ensure our nation’s veterans have the skills and opportunities to succeed in STEM careers is now on its way to the president’s desk.”  Harris has been a client with the 5 Star Veterans for the past year, and he says that the new bill can help his brothers and sisters that have served in the military find better-paying jobs.  “Many veterans come out, they have their 9/11 education benefits, their GI Bill benefits and this is just going to be another addition to help veterans find jobs in the technological, engineering, and science field,” he said.  The STEM Careers Act would work with the National Science Foundation and Office of Science and Technology Policy to help coordinate programs for veterans transitioning into STEM careers, as well as look at what barriers prevent veterans from entering these fields.
  • As the new coronavirus continues to spread, WOKV's Consumer Warrior Clark Howard says it's beginning to take its toll on the travel industry, especially cruise lines. 'The cruise lines that sail in that part of the world, which is pretty much all the major ones, are, for now, canning cruises that would have departed from areas close to the affected regions in China,' says Howard.  Howard says since we don't know how long the coronavirus will be an issue, he says if you're book travel for spring or summer, you'll want to consider buying travel insurance. But he says you need to make sure it's a 'cancel for any reason' policy.  'You don't get back all your money, typically, with a 'cancel for any reason' policy, you get three-quarters of your money, which would be something that people might be willing to walk away from a quarter, if they're going to have no fun or worry on a trip that they were planning to take,' says Howard.  But even if you don't have any big trips planned, Howard says you'll still feel the impacts of less travel as he believes gas prices are likely to fall as a result.  'As the demand falls, the supply rises, and it lowers the price for you,' Howard explains.  Get more money-saving advice from WOKV's Consumer Warrior Clark Howard in his latest on-demand podcasts by clicking HERE.
  • Publix is under contract to purchase the lease for five Lucky’s Market locations, including the one at 580 Atlantic Boulevard in Neptune Beach, according to Maria Brous, the director of communications at Publix Super Markets. The other locations are in Clermont, Naples, Orlando and Ormond Beach.  Publix is currently in the due diligence process.
  • On Tuesday morning, in Riverside Park, stakeholder group ‘5 Points Collaborative,’ and District 14 Jacksonville City Councilwoman, Randy Defoor, announced plans to improve the Five Points area. The group is comprised of Riverside stakeholders, merchants and more. The briefing began with opening comments from Riverside Avondale Preservation’s Executive director, Warren Jones, before Five Points Merchants Association president Kelly Pickard, and Defoor, shared details about the work being done in the area.  “We spent the last, roughly, six months kind of just having a series of planning meetings,” said Pickard. “We went on some walking tours to really look at the neighborhood.”  Other members of the group stood collectively behind the speakers as they addressed media.  “The ‘5 Points Collaborative’ consists of people who work, play and live here,” said Defoor.  Homeowners like Bethany Kaisharis, were intrigued by the collaborative’s efforts.  “I am excited about any improvements to our neighborhood,” said Kaisharis.  The group announced four main objectives aimed at making Riverside more guest friendly. The announcement comes after months of planning and research by the collaborative.  Jones explained how the group came together.  “Many of the organizations are destination organizations and merchants,” said Jones. “… And what we found in talking to them is that they have a lot of plans but the group wasn’t talking about how they could work together.”  The group’s first priority, of four outlined in Tuesday’s briefing, is the development of a memorandum of understanding with the city of Jacksonville. The MOU will define how Five Points merchants work together to improve and maintain streetscape.  The remaining priorities include a commitment to revitalizing Riverside Park, plans to improve wayfinding in the Riverside area, and the construction of a new dock to be located between the Cummer Museum of Arts and Garden Club of Jacksonville.  Work on the dock is expected to begin in 2020, and comes at a price tag of about $500,000 for the city. The group tells us Defoor worked to secure the funding.  “It definitely will include the dock, the dock will come online this summer,” said Defoor. “They’re putting together a wayfaring plan for the signage, and that’s what I’m really going to be focusing on the next couple of years.”  The city is also investing about $1.5 million in improving roads in Jacksonville. Of the $1.5 million, $820,000 will go toward Lomax Street improvements, which are also expected to begin this year. The group tells us Lomax will become a more pedestrian friendly one-way street.  Defoor tells Action News Jax Riverside Park improvements could be seen in 2021 and may include duck pond renovations.  Some we spoke to raised concerns about what’s being done to address homelessness in area. We took their concerns to Defoor, and others in ‘5 Points Collaborative.’  “We definitely have an issue with homelessness in this area, and we are working with the JSO in regard to that as well as Sulzbacher,” said Defoor.  “Homelessness is an issue that we have talked about and we’re trying to work with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on how we can best work through that issue,” said Jones.  Neighbors like Lindsay Hool tell us they’re excited for what the future may hold for Riverside.  “I like Riverside because it is walkable and it has great schools, and the houses are nice and they had a lot of character,” said Hool.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is cracking down on drug dealers, amid an increase in drug overdose deaths. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson announced several murder arrests tied to drugs on Tuesday.  'Today, five suspects have been indicted and arrested for murder in separate cases. In addition, our teams have arrested another 20 people on separate drug charges and probable cause to indict for murder still exists and is being developed on other cases as well,' says Williams.  Williams says these arrests come amid an increase in local drug overdoses.  'The narcotics/homicide investigative teams worked 263 of those cases in 2019, which was up from just 177 in 2018. That for us is a 65% increase in the number of those cases that we worked,' says Williams.  State Attorney Melissa Nelson says these arrests should send a message.  'These indictments send an important message to drug dealers. Those who sell fentanyl and those who sell drugs cut with fentanyl which lead to death will be held accountable, not merely for the sale of the drugs, but for murder,' says Nelson.  But she wants to make it clear these prosecutions do not change the Good Samaritan law, which provides immunity from prosecution for those seeking medical intervention.  'We still want people to call when they're in need. However, for those who cover-up drug overdoses and those who deal in drugs that cause death, we will be aggressive on this front,' says Nelson. WATCH: JSO announces arrests tied to multiple death investigations

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