During an April 1 press conference held by the Third Judicial Circuit Family Violence Prevention Council and Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, a clothesline was on display with T-shirts decorated by the victims of child abuse and neglect. The display is available for viewing at the Madison County Administration Building in Edwardsville until May 1.
Tina Culp has some scary statistics to share.
“In Madison County, one in 25 children is involved in allegations of child abuse each year,” said Culp, who serves as coordinator at Oasis Women’s Center in Alton. “In Illinois, DCFS receives, investigates and acts upon a report of child abuse every five minutes, child sexual abuse every two hours and the death of a child by abuse or neglect every day and a half.”
On April 1, the Third Judicial Circuit Family Violence Prevention Council and Prevent Child Abuse Illinois held a press conference to launch Child Abuse Prevention Month 2015.
The theme this year is, “How Will You Help?”
The press conference was held at the Madison County Administration Building in Edwardsville. The Oasis Women’s Center’s Clothesline Project was revealed, representing victims of domestic violence. In this moving display, a clothesline is hung with T-shirts decorated by victims (mostly children) and their supporters.
Because most of these crimes go unreported, Culp said she believes the community has a duty to step up.
“The most important ways that the community can help to intervene in and prevent child abuse is by knowing the warning signs of child abuse,” she said. “Believing children if they say they have been abused, letting them know it is not their fault.”
According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, child abuse comes in many forms and is not limited to physical abuse.
“It might be harder to see the damage done by unkind words and careless actions,” the website states. “Regardless of whether it’s physical or emotional, maltreatment can have long-lasting effects on a child’s physical and mental health.
“Child abuse and neglect occur when a parent, caretaker, or another person in a custodial role acts, or fails to act, in a manner that results in the death, serious physical or emotional harm, or sexual abuse or exploitation of a child; or that presents an imminent risk of serious harm to a child.”
Although this month highlights the efforts to prevent child abuse, it is a crisis throughout the year.
In attendance at the conference were Judge Barbara Crowder, co-chair of the Family Violence Prevention Council, Judge William Mudge and Donya Adkerson, director of Alternatives Counseling Inc.
Many agencies and advocates for child abuse prevention were on hand to provide information regarding services and how the community could help. The Madison County Child Advocacy Center also displayed the number of children who have been interviewed within the last year. Each child was represented with a blue or pink paper silhouette.
Both displays will remain at the Administration Building until May 1.
There were about 60 people in attendance, learning about resources that can provide advice and support. According to Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, all the community needs to do to prevent child abuse is take the time to C.A.R.E.
“(C)reate opportunities for positive parent and child interactions. (B)e an advocate for children and families. (R)espond to the needs of children and families. (E)ncourage positive growth in your community.”
Other than Prevent Child Abuse Illinois and the Oasis Women’s Center, resources for more support on child abuse prevention are available at the Madison County Child Advocacy Center, Caritas Family Solutions, One Hope United and more.
Tina says until attitudes change, children will continue to suffer in silence.
“Sadly, up to 80 percent of abuse and neglect goes unreported,” she said. “One in five Illinois children is abused before the age of 18.
“If people see something, they should say something.”
The Child Abuse Hotline is (800) 252-2873.