In a Jan. 18 Senate Finance Committee meeting, Sen. Crystal Diamond Brantley, R-Elephant Butte, made bold claims regarding the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), asserting that more children died under CYFD’s care than by gun violence. Eye-catching? Sure. Sensational? You bet. True? Not even close!
In 2022, the last year for which there is complete data, 40 New Mexico children were killed by gunfire—20 times more than the number who died in CYFD custody last year. Firearms stand out as one of the leading causes of childhood death in this state. That’s not just a tragedy, it’s an outrage.
Let’s be clear: Any child’s death is a tragedy. The Department of Health, along with others across state government, works every day to protect kids and help keep them healthy.
However, it’s nearly impossible to achieve this shared goal in the face of wild accusations that are so far off the mark. While we can disagree on strategy, we must agree on the facts. This type of disinformation is dangerous.
It’s especially disheartening to witness an elected representative making false statements without any factual data to support them and a clear disregard for the truth. Such grandstanding not only undermines the credibility of the legislative process but also obstructs genuine efforts to address the challenges faced by vulnerable children in our state.
We can’t build a solid strategy to protect kids if it’s not built on a foundation of fact. While facts can be challenging, that doesn’t give us permission to make up fiction we prefer.
Moreover, Sen. Diamond Brantley’s criticism extends to the hardworking employees of CYFD, who are dedicated to making a positive impact in challenging situations every day. This continuous denigration fails to recognize the efforts of those striving to bring about positive change.
Additionally, Sen. Diamond Brantley seems to show a lack of willingness to address the serious issue of gun violence during this legislative session. This raises concerns about her commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of New Mexico’s children.
It is essential to approach discussions about sensitive matters, such as child welfare and gun violence, with accuracy, empathy, and a commitment to finding real solutions. Sen. Diamond Brantley’s misrepresentation of facts and apparent reluctance to address gun violence only serve to hinder the collaborative efforts of those genuinely working towards positive change.
In the face of unsubstantiated claims and a lack of commitment to crucial issues, it is essential for the public and fellow legislators to discern between baseless accusations and the tireless efforts of those dedicated to the welfare of our state’s children. Together, we must focus on building a truthful and compassionate foundation for the betterment of our community, leaving behind the misguided assertions of those who would rather stand on shaky ground.