CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Troy Strother has met thousands of couples battling family issues in his work as the Executive Director of Parents Anonymous of South Carolina. In the last three months, Strother says his non-profit has received twice as many calls from adults looking help dealing with neglect and abuse of their children.
"What we see is there's such a frustration," says Strother. "Such an economic frustration with families that lends itself to abuse of the most vulnerable."
The most vulnerable Strother is talking about are children, especially those with disabilities.
"Usually abuse is done to children who are at a younger age usually 0-6 years old but we do see with children with disabilities that extending into the teenage years," says Strother.
According to Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet one of those neglected teenagers was 13-year-old Joshua Mendoza, whose family says he suffered from tuberous sclerosis.
Mendoza was found dead February 10 in a mobile home at Creekside trailer park on Bacons Bridge Road.
Nisbet says Mendoza's death wasn't an accident. He believes the teenager was starved to death by his parents. At the time of his death, Mendoza weighed 48 pounds, according to the Coroner which is almost half the weight of an average 13-year-old boy.
Mendoza's mother Kimberly Love and step-father Jason Buckley now face murder charges after his death was ruled by neglect and malnourishment.
Strother's says for parents, help is just a phone call away.
"Those parents that are not finding that resource or picking up that phone," says Strother, "those things are not happening and we will continue to see this rise of children being abused."