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Nashua child death was preventable

December 5, 2014
Brielle Gage, photo credit Boston CBS News

NASHUA – This afternoon, the NH Union Leader reported a 3-year-old girl’s death was determined to be a homicide caused by blunt force trauma after an autopsy.

Brielle Gage was taken by ambulance from her 14 Oak St. home on Nov. 25 but died shortly later at a local hospital. At that time, investigators said she died under suspicious circumstances, says the Union Leader.

Parents have a tough job when it comes to teaching children right from wrong,  but must use discipline that is not harmful to the children. According to the Union Leader, Police charged the couple, Katlyn Marin and Michael Rivera, with beating two of the children with a belt and forcing one of them to kneel for hours.

All cases of child abuse are tragic. Unfortunately, it happens more often than we’d like, inside and outside of the home. Physically harming a child is not OK and this case is horrific.

In fact, brain science demonstrates the significant effects child maltreatment has on the developing brain. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study, funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that angry and aggressive acts against children cause long-lasting negative effects well into adulthood.

How can we stop abuse from happening in the first place? In this case, the school guidance counselor spotted the 8-year-old’s bruises and reported the abuse. Typically there are warning signs of family stress and dysfunction that when recognized, could lead to interventions before severe abused occurs. Family, friends and community members, can take action to get the family help and keep the children safe.

As caring adults, we need to be sensitive to the stresses of the parents in our community, our network and our families. Providing support, respite childcare, referrals to community resources could make a difference in the safety of a child you know. You don’t have to be a superhero to prevent a parent from snapping in a moment of frustration.

At NH Children’s Trust, we believe all children can thrive when in a safe and nurturing environment. So, we utilize evidence-based strategies and train anyone interacting with children and families to look for warning signs of stressed parents and to give parents tools, information and confidence they need to raise healthy children. Find out more about our work at

To read the Union Leader’s story on this case, click here.

Media contact for comment:

Keryn Bernard-Kriegl, Executive Director, NH Children’s Trust