Cumberland County says school district never submitted CPS report on 7-year-old prior to death

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Cumberland County School District's child abuse procedures are under question after the Department of Social Services announced it never received a child protective services report on 7-year-old Ethan Bates, the boy who was found dead in his home Wednesday morning.

In court documents, Fayetteville Police said Ethan missed three days of school last week.

Ethan attended West Area Elementary. Records show that a teacher reported seeing Ethan with bruises on his face to a school social worker.

The DSS says "the Cumberland County DSS had not received a child protective services report on the 7-year-old prior to the child fatality."

State law requires any individual or party to report any abuse, or they could face a class 1 misdemeanor.

District Attorney Billy West said he believes the brunt of that reported abuse came close to the time of Ethan's death.

"It appeared that those injuries had been inflicted in a short period of time to when the police arrived," West said.

The Child Advocacy Center in Fayetteville said making a report to local law enforcement or DSS could save a child's life.

Executive Director Roberta Humphries could not comment on the case but said reporting suspected sexual or physical abuse could save a child's life.

"It's your duty to report it," Humphries said.

The nonprofit organization dealt with 730 cases in 2018; one third of those involved physical abuse.

"Face, around the ears, the neck, things like that that you would not expect to see injuries on a child," Humphries said.

Humphries said unusual behavior is another key sign: nervous, hostile, fearful, change in personality.

"You know, you don't have to have proof. You know, don't do your own investigation. That's up to law enforcement and DSS to investigate," Humphries said.

ABC11 asked the school district for comment. In response, it said: "Because this is an ongoing investigation and this request involves confidential student information, which is protected by confidentiality laws, we are unable to share additional information at this time."
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