A Colorado government email account set up to organize reports of child abuse and neglect went unchecked for four years so that five cases requiring immediate attention were disregarded. Colorado's Department of Human Services launched firstname.lastname@example.org in 2015 as a way for government staff to support a hotline for reporting suspected abuse or neglect, but quickly switched to email@example.com due to an incorrect format. The initial address, never shared with the public, racked up 321 emails before a May 15 internal audit revealed it was still active but not assigned to anyone, reports the Washington Post. Of the 104 emails mentioning concerns that children were being abused or neglected, five described suspected child neglect cases that were to be investigated immediately, per CBS4.
While the cases are being addressed now, "it's of great concern that we had five that did not reach the level of attention they needed in a timely way," says Minna Castillo-Cohen of the department's Office of Children, Youth and Families, per CBS4. "We wish we would have been able to identify these earlier but we did not know this email even existed." It has now been deleted. Any emails sent to that address will trigger an auto-response indicating how child mistreatment should be reported, per the Post, which points out that none of the missed emails were sent by members of the public. The public is urged to report abuse or neglect to the hotline—1-844-CO-4-KIDS or 1-844-264-5437—which is manned 24/7. Some 13,289 children were found to have been mistreated based on a record high of 221,969 calls in 2018. (Read more Colorado stories.)