National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery

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NAASCA Daily Digest
EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day we bring you news articles, opinion pieces, crime stories and official information from government web sites. These are highlights, and constitute the tip of the iceberg .. a small percentage of the daily information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse, trauma and recovery. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" and every voice makes a big difference.
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Today's NAASCA news:

April 27
, 2017

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Missouri

The terrorizing torment of child abuse, neglect

by Don Hinkle

From 2012 to 2014, Isidro Cruz-Basurto sodomized and molested a seven-year-old girl. When questioned by authorities, he said he was conducting private medical exams in his bedroom to test if anyone else was abusing the victim. A Jackson County jury rejected his explanation and on April 19 found Cruz-Basurto, 33, of Kansas City guilty of four counts of statutory sodomy in the first degree and two counts of child molestation in the first degree.

Cruz-Basurto, who is an illegal alien, faces up to life imprisonment on each sodomy count, up to 15 years imprisonment on each molestation count and a total minimum of at least 40 years. His sentencing is set for June 8.

“It took the jury less than an hour to return a guilty verdict on all six counts,” said Missouri Attorney General Joshua Hawley, whose office handled the case upon request of the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office. “I attribute that to the diligent and meticulous work of our attorneys, and I am proud of their efforts to seek justice. My hope is the people of Jackson County can rest a little easier knowing this dangerous criminal is behind bars and away from their children.”

In 2015, the Missouri Department of Social Services (MDSS) received 121,842 reports of possible child abuse or neglect. Of those reports, 68,623 are classified as investigations or assessments completed by the MDSS' children's division. Some 100,625 children were involved in the investigations and assessments.

There are 39 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse living in the U.S. today. More than three million American children are current victims. Most are struggling alone, believing there is no adult who can help them. This ought to spur Missouri lawmakers into action in making the state's adoption and foster care processes easier and safer.

Shockingly, an estimated one in 20 teenage boys and adult men sexually abuse children and an estimated one teenage girl or adult woman in every 3,300 females molests children, according to the Child Molestation and Prevention Institute (CMPI). That is five million children! Fifteen out of every 100 Americans have been either a molested child or a molester when we tally the number of child victims, adult survivors and child abusers combined.

Amidst this problem, there is a common misconception: The issue of child sexual abuse ought to be left to law enforcement, courts, physicians and therapists. However, such a notion presents a problem: They can never put an end to the abuse. Why? Because they come on the scene too late. By the time they get there, the abuse has occurred. Only you and I can get there in time. Child molestation prevention is most effective when we get involved.

Unfortunately, most children will never tell someone they have been – or are being – abused. Some children are confused, some are afraid. If the abuser is part of their family, they will often not say anything to protect their family, saving them from the pain of knowing.

Here are some things CMPI recommends:

• A child molester is an older child or adult who touches a child for his or her own sexual gratification.

• Child molestation is the act of sexually touching a child.

• A child is a girl or boy who is 13 years of age or younger

• What is the age difference between a molester and a child? It is five years, so, for example, a 14-year-old “older child” sexually touching a nine-year-old is an example.

Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Child sexual abuse flies in the face of this truth. Such abhorrent behavior does not render the respect and dignity due to children made in the image of God.

Jesus made it clear where he stood with children. He loved them and He used them to teach us the kind of attitude we should exhibit as we seek salvation through a personal relationship with Him. Mark 10:14-16 is instructive: “‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.' And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.”

May we join hands in combatting child abuse? Let us obey God and view children as a “gift,” blessing their lives so they grow into mature followers of Christ.

http://mbcpathway.com/2017/04/25/the-terrorizing-torment-of-child-abuse-neglect/

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Kansas

Editorial

Fighting myths about sexual assault

Outmoded understanding of sexual violence leads to the wrong interventions

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an opportunity for us to recognize the impact sexual violence has in our community. Sexual violence is still shockingly common in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 431,840 rapes or sexual assaults were committed in 2015 alone, the most recent year for which data is available. Millions of American men, women and children live with the long-term effects of surviving sexual abuse.

Culturally, we have a long way to go in our understanding of sexual violence. Although most people now accept rape as a violent crime that the state should prosecute in the interests of public safety, dynamics of sexual violence and appropriate prevention efforts are frequently misunderstood.

Contrary to the stereotype of a stranger lurking in wait, most victims of sexual violence know their rapists and attackers. Rapists are usually friends, acquaintances, dates, family members or friends, often well-known and trusted by their victims.

This dynamic complicates our understanding of sexual violence. Victims who know their attackers may blame themselves for the violence, or be confused about what really happened. Normal victim behavior, like lack of physical resistance, delayed reporting and continuing contact with the perpetrator, is often interpreted as an attack on the credibility of the victim.

As our understanding of sexual violence improves, we can better prevent these crimes. Rape prevention classes used to be an exercise in victim-blaming, targeted only toward women and focusing solely on victim behavior. These misconceptions are unfortunately not extinct. In 2011, a Toronto police officer famously suggested that women should “avoid dressing like sluts” to prevent sexual assault, a claim with no supporting evidence.

Given the serious nature of these crimes, we cannot afford to design interventions based on conjecture and a desire to police women's behavior. We must take seriously our role to support survivors, hold perpetrators accountable and prevent future violence.

Innovative, evidence-based prevention efforts teach both men and women about sexual consent, respect and bystander intervention.

There are bright spots in our community's response to sexual violence. Washburn University recently hired a full-time victim advocate with state and federal grant funds. The new position will serve victims of crime and support wider prevention efforts on campus. Two local organizations specialize in providing advocacy and counseling for different populations of victims. These organizations are worthy of our support, as they advocate on behalf of survivors.

The LifeHouse Child Advocacy Center serves children and their non-offending family members in the court system. More information is available at www.lifehousecac.com.

The YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment serves adult survivors and offers a 24-hour hotline at 1-888-822-2983. The YWCA holds its biggest fundraiser of the year this Friday, April 28. The Concealed Revealed Art Auction offers nearly 80 pieces of artwork, with all proceeds supporting the vital work of the YWCA. More information is available at www.ywcaneks.org.

Members of The Capital-Journal's editorial advisory board are Zach Ahrens, Matt Johnson, Ray Beers Jr., Laura Burton, Garry Cushinberry, Mike Hall, Jessica Hosman, Jessica Lucas, Veronica Padilla and John Stauffer.

http://cjonline.com/opinion/editorials/2017-04-25/editorial-fighting-myths-about-sexual-assault

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Tennessee

Court documents: Mother had abused teen in kidnapping case

by Sheila Burke

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) - A 15-year-old Tennessee girl who authorities say was kidnapped by her teacher had endured months of abuse at the hands of her mother, according to court documents, making her particularly vulnerable to an adult predator.

The mother is scheduled to appear in court next month and has pleaded not guilty to five counts of abuse and neglect involving several of her children. The girl's father filed for divorce Monday, citing the alleged abuse. His daughter was found safe with her teacher last week at a cabin in a remote part of Northern California.

The girl's father has said the 50-year-old teacher brainwashed his daughter. In divorce documents, he said the teacher used his position of authority to "prey upon her, groom her, and ultimately entice her into running away with him."

The Associated Press is not naming the student or any family members because the teen is an alleged victim of a sex crime.

The teacher, Tad Cummins, faces federal charges of bringing a minor across state lines for sex and state charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. Cummins' attorney has said the girl went with her teacher willingly, and was not forced, threatened or coerced.

School records showed the girl often relied on Cummins "like a friend and a counselor" when she became upset or anxious at school.

A history of abuse at home can make children particularly susceptible to manipulation disguised as help, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

"They're very vulnerable to the grooming because this is an adult who seems to care about them and is interested in them, and that's probably something they're not getting elsewhere," he said.

Authorities said the mother physically abused several of her children for about a year, beginning in November 2014. The teen's father was living at home during that time, but the couple separated in November 2015 and the father took sole custody of the children, according to the divorce filing. The parents have been married for 30 years and have 10 children together, though only four of them are still minors.

The mother is accused of hitting her children until they bled, knocking a daughter unconscious with a wooden board and throwing a chair at another daughter, bruising her leg, court documents show. The mother also smacked a child in the head for injecting herself with her brother's EpiPen.

The mother said she can't comment about the case. Her attorney has asked for more detail on the allegations and access to the children's social media accounts.

The mother has been ordered to stay away from the children, court records said.

The mother is alleged to have banged the 15-year-old's head on a washer, and at another point, she threw the girl down basement steps and locked her inside, the documents said.

The children wrote letters to the Department of Children's Services about the abuse before the mother was arrested, according to one of the teen's relatives.

Department spokesman Rob Johnson said he could not comment on the case.

The girl's relative said Cummins knew the girl had been abused and took advantage of that information.

"We have a 15-year-old girl with a 50-year-old man and he obviously used his power, his authority to, whether it's groom her or convince her, to do certain things," the girl's sister-in-law said.

In January, another student reported seeing Cummins kissing the girl on the lips, setting off an investigation into their relationship. The teen and the teacher denied they had kissed, but the investigation found that the teen often relied on Cummins for support.

"She looks at him like a friend and a counselor who knows how to calm her down when she is experiencing anxiety," school records said.

Cummins described the girl as "a really good friend" and told school officials the girl did leave her other classes to come see him "when she needs someone to calm her down."

School administrators told the girl she needed to go to a school counselor for anxiety issues and ordered the health science teacher to stay away from her. Cummins disobeyed that order a week later and was suspended, the records said.

He wasn't fired until about a month later - a day after the girl was reported missing March 13, when the case began to attract national attention.

Federal court documents alleged the teacher had been plotting his escape with the girl after their relationship was discovered and planned to take her to Mexico, possibly by boat.

Authorities credit the caretaker of the remote Northern California property for helping police find the girl. The caretaker will get a $10,000 reward Friday.

Abused children are often exploited by teachers, coaches and other people in authority, but what makes the Tennessee case so unusual is that they left the area together, Finkelhor said.

Still, he said, there's a reason there are laws protecting children from statutory rape or abuse by authority figures.

"And the reason why," Finkelhor said, "is we want these people to be thinking about the welfare of children without having their own sexual gratification become part of the equation."

http://www.fox19.com/story/35249265/court-documents-mother-had-abused-teen-in-kidnapping-case

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Montana

Bullock Signs Bill Creating Commission on Child Abuse

Gov. Steve Bullock has signed legislation creating a commission to help guide policy on child abuse and neglect.

by the Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock has signed legislation creating a commission to help guide policy on child abuse and neglect.

The governor signed the bill on Tuesday along with five others. He also issued an amendatory veto on a proposal that sought to restructure fees for agricultural nurseries.

The new commission would examine child abuse cases to better understand the causes, particularly in cases that result in death. The bill was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Kathy Kelker of Billings. The commission would be comprised of members appointed by the governor and Attorney General Tim Fox.

The commission is expected to issue a report that could guide legislation to address the matter.

The bill is one five signed by the governor focused on the state's foster care system.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/montana/articles/2017-04-25/bullock-signs-bill-creating-commission-on-child-abuse

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Texas

Panel in Amarillo says answers to child abuse must be community-driven

by Lauren Koski

Child abuse and neglect is 60 percent higher in Amarillo than the state average.

Kristie Tingle, a research analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, revealed the number Tuesday during a presentation that painted a picture for community leaders, municipal candidates, professionals with Child Protective Services and representatives from Amarillo's non-profit sector about the current state of Texas Panhandle families.

Tingle said the difference in Amarillo's high percentage as compared to the state's average might be attributed to increased reporting of abuse and neglect cases.

However, she and Sasha Rasco, the associate commissioner for the Texas Department of Family &Protective Services Division of Prevention &Early Intervention, also suspect there's another significant contributing factor: Amarillo's high rate of domestic violence.

“We know that violence is violence,” Rasco said. “Violence in the home generally impacts both the adults and the children, so it's easy to conclude there's something about violence that needs to be tackled in the panhandle area. Not that we don't see domestic violence or physical abuse around the entire state, but it does seem to be concentrated here.”

The forum was sponsored by PEI and featured a panel of professionals including Bruce Moseley, executive director for the Turn Center in Amarillo, Dubb Alexander, founder and director of Fathers Add Value in Amarillo, and April Leming, executive director for the Bridge Children's Advocacy Center.

The panel specifically discussed how preventative measures can steer families away from abuse, neglect and the inevitable involvement of Child Protective Services. They also talked about how to support children with developmental needs, how to empower fathers and the various ways that families deal with stress.

Rasco said PEI serves about 62,000 families in Texas through their prevention programming. According to a recent study by the Texas Institute for Child &Family Wellbeing at The University of Texas at Austin, 97 percent of those Texas families did not experience CPS involvement.

Shawn Vandygriff, CPS Region 1 director, said the study's outcome shows that prevention measures actually work.

“What we currently have is great, but how much greater that could be and how many more people we can touch if we have more prevention type of resources in each of our communities?” Vandygriff asked. “Because obviously, that data shows that if parents can get the help they need in order to remain stress free — or to provide a food box or whatever the situation might be — that we (CPS) don't become involved with them. If they have the ability to reach out on their own to get what they need, then it does alleviate some of the caseload we (CPS) would end up getting.”

Using the analogy of a river, Rasco described the flow of child welfare in Texas.

Most recently the focus has been shifted solely to saving children who might be drowning in the river — foster care — but Rasco believes attention should be given equally to children and families who are upstream, who might later find themselves in that situation.

“There's generally, on any given day, around 36,000 children in foster care - but there's 7 million in the state of Texas,” Rasco said.

Tingle shared with the panel many of the descriptive statistics she's gathered about families in the Texas Panhandle. She said she's concluded that the region has “concerning trends” that negatively compare to those in larger metropolitan areas across the state.

“Dallas had only four more domestic violence homicides than Amarillo did, but Dallas has six times the population,” Tingle said, referring to research from 2015.

“It's not existing in a vacuum,” said Tingle. “The high rates of family violence are feeding back into the high rates of child abuse as well.”

Tingle added that the research conducted on area families also includes changes in the region's demographics, specifically changes in population by race along along with an increasing Hispanic population.

Courtney Seals, division administrator for DFPS Division of Community and System Support, said these are community-based concerns and therefore the answers must be community-driven.

“There is a role for everybody,” Seals said. “This is not just an issue for social workers in Amarillo, this is not just an issue for people at the schools, this is something that every single person h

as the ability to influence in some way, whether it's within your own company by creating a space that supports families and allows families the time off they need to go to doctor visits with their kids, or whether you're educating people in the community about this issue. But everybody can do something.”

Rasco echoed Seals, encouraging the creation of a culture that embraces families, even when a two-year-old might be throwing a temper tantrum at a grocery store. The usual response to that situation might be to frown at the mother, Rasco said, but an encouraging word or understanding smile instead can become a catalyst of positive change.

“Imagine how differently that mom goes home with that kid,” Rasco said. “There really are micro things you can change in a community to make it a happier, healthier place to raise children. That's not about the social work, that's not about CPS, that's about the community deciding how they want to embrace children and families and help parents.”

Child Abuse and Neglect in the Texas Panhandle

15.5 out of every 1,000 children in Amarillo

9.1 out of every 1,000 children in the state of Texas

This is a 60 percent difference in confirmed child abuse and neglect cases in Amarillo compared to Texas state average

Factors Affecting Child Abuse and Neglect in the Texas Panhandle

The average family of three needs $48,000/year to survive in Amarillo

29 percent of Amarillo jobs cannot provide that annual salary

Potter and Randall counties combined had more than 26,000 domestic violence cases in 2015

Potter County violence against women is 6.8 per 1,000 women per year which is three times higher than the statewide rate

In Amarillo, there were 7 homicides committed by a family member or partner in 2015 as compared to Dallas, with six times the population, which had 11 homicides that same year

Source: Kristie Tingle, research analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities

http://amarillo.com/local-news/news/2017-04-25/panel-amarillo-says-answers-child-abuse-must-be-community-driven

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Texas

CPS says it is working on new ways to combat child abuse

by Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje

While the rate of child victims of abuse or neglect declined somewhat in Bexar County last year, the rate of children removed from their homes for such maltreatment increased, with more than 1,900 kids being taken from their parents by the state.

And last year 11 children in the county died at the hands of their caregivers, up from only four such deaths in fiscal 2015.

Despite such dark statistics, officials with Child Protective Services and others involved with child welfare gathered Tuesday to discuss what the state agency is doing right to combat child abuse in Bexar County, which routinely posts some of the worst numbers in the state.

“We've made a significant number of changes in a short time,” said Erica Bañuelos, CPS regional director.

The meeting happened as lawmakers in Austin continue to debate bills that would restrict the role CPS plays in cases of child maltreatment, and as a federal judge's order looms over the beleagured Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, saying it must improve its deficient foster care system or risk coming under federal oversight.

The event, sponsored by the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, brought together those in law enforcement, the court system, nonprofits and others who Bañuelos said are collaborating like never before to reduce the high number of child abuse cases in Bexar County, which was second only to Harris County last year — even though the latter has double the child population size.

“Our number one goal is to reunify families whenever possible, and when it's not, we focus on providing attention and support to kinship families,” Bañuelos said, referencing relatives who take in children of family members. Last year, some 60 percent of children in Bexar County who were removed because of maltreatment were placed permanently with relatives.

District Court Judge Peter Sakai noted all the progress that's been made locally in helping troubled families while acknowledging the work is far from over. Sakai, who oversees the Early Intervention Court — the so-called “baby court,” for parents whose kids are younger than 3 — said the tendency after high-profile child abuse cases is to blame CPS.

“And there are some issues with CPS, but we've got to remember these are some complex issues that involve some very complex families, and we're all doing the best we can,” he said.

.Among the legislation under consideration in Austin is a provison that would take all case management functions away from CPS, apart from investigations, and give it to nonprofit child-placing agencies.

Bexar County District Attorney Nicholas “Nico” LaHood spoke about the need to pass HB 3301, which would increase the potential prison sentence for the serial abuse of children under 6 years old, the elderly and the disabled. Under the bill, abusers who commit an offense two or more times could face a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison. If there was serious bodily injury, the abuser would face at least 15 years to life.

A House committee heard testimony on the bill, which has bipartisan support, on Monday, but it remains pending.

During the meeting Tuesday held at the United Way, several CPS caseworkers spoke passionately — and sometimes in tears — about why they do the work they do.

Jillian Williams, an investigator, spoke of finding a baby with a broken arm under a bridge, in the care of a heroin-abusing parent. She spoke of visiting horribly injured kids in the hospital.

“When I go home at night I see their faces in the face of my children,” she said. “I hold my children longer, I hug them tighter.”

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/CPS-looks-for-bright-light-amid-dark-statistics-11098651.php

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New York

Child abuse is everyone's problem to solve

by Kathy DiLallo

Sadly, child abuse numbers have risen again. A federal report published by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families showed the number of children in the United States who have experienced child abuse and neglect rose for a third year in a row. More disturbingly, child fatalities increased by 2.25 percent.

For the children who survive, experts state that the toxic stress that results from childhood abuse and neglect triggers hormones that impact the child's body and brain, putting the child at greater risk for disease, poor school performance, poverty and even early death.

Here are some ways to take action.

If you see something, say something.

Offer to help a parent or caregiver who is stressed and overloaded.

Learn about the various forms of child abuse, including Shaken Baby Syndrome, neglect and maltreatment.

Encourage state lawmakers to strengthen our laws and increase sentencing for those who harm innocent children. On the New York State level, learn about JJ's Law, whose namesake was from Buffalo. Support the expansion of JJ's law, which would increase penalties for those who abuse children.

Become familiar with and urge the passing of Brittany's Law, which would require any offender convicted of a violent felony to register with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services upon release from prison. The registry would be accessible to the public, as is the sex offender registry. Brittany's Law has passed in the New York State Senate six times in a row, however, it has not passed through the Assembly. Brittany's Law recently gained the support of the New York State Sheriff Association.

On the federal level, become familiar with the Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act of 2013. The act directs the U.S. Attorney General to issue a state-by-state report on child abuse prevention laws with a particular focus on penalties for cases of severe child abuse. Every three years a report is to be issued to highlight deficient laws and provide states with the opportunity to fix the laws. In some states, those who commit crimes against children typically receive 25 percent of the sentencing they would receive if they committed the same crime against an adult.

The rise of child abuse and maltreatment is unacceptable and preventable. During Child Abuse Awareness Month and every day, we need to stay vigilant; we need to be the voice for our children. Remember, every child has the undeniable right to be happy, nurtured, loved and safe!

Kathy DiLallo is a program coordinator for New Directions Youth and Family Services, which provides services to at-risk children at residential youth homes throughout the Buffalo Niagara region.

http://www.lockportjournal.com/opinion/child-abuse-is-everyone-s-problem-to-solve/article_01e1e34f-c3d4-56e8-8200-78b2a60114e9.html

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North Carolina

N.C. Calls Harnett County Residents To Action For Child Abuse Prevention Month

by The Daily Record

In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the District 11 Guardian ad Litem Program is issuing a call to action for residents of North Carolina to stand against child abuse and take action to support children who have been abused or neglected.

At any given time, the cases of over 10,000 children are in the state's abuse, neglect and dependency courts. Most of them are in foster care or other out-of-home placements. These children come into the child welfare system through no fault of their own.

“The needs of North Carolina's children coming into care are more complicated than ever before, and life in foster care can be chaotic,” said Iris Derrick, Atlantic Cape Fear Regional administrator. “Every child deserves the support of caring, consistent adult with the training to help them heal and thrive.”

Throughout the month of April, the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program is calling on members of the community to help the program serve more of Harnett County's most vulnerable children. Throughout the district, Guardian ad Litem staff and community volunteers are recognizing and partnering to bring awareness to child abuse prevention.

Without intervention, the odds are stacked against children in foster care. A child with a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteer, however, will leave the foster care system two-and-a-half months earlier, on average, compared to a child without a (GAL) volunteer. Studies show children with a (GAL) volunteer receive more services that are critical to their well-being than children without an advocate, and those children are more likely to achieve educational success.

“NC GAL volunteers are a constant for the child in a time of chaos,” said John Webster, GAL Program supervisor. “A child may have multiple social workers, attorneys, therapists and foster placements throughout the life of the case but only one (GAL) volunteer, which can make all the difference for the child's future.”

District 11 NC Guardian ad Litem of Harnett, Lee and Johnston counties is a member of the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem program, a statewide network of programs in all 100 counties across North Carolina. At the heart of the movement are over 5,000 highly-trained volunteers who advocate for the best interests of more than 17,000 of North Carolina's children who have been abused or neglected. In Harnett County, there are 39 volunteer advocates fighting for the best interests of 85 children but 16 more children need the care and support of a GAL volunteer.

For more information about the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program in Harnett County, visit www.volunteerforgal.org or call (910) 814-4690.

http://www.mydailyrecord.com/eedition/community/2017/04/26/n-c-calls-harnett-county-residents-to-action-for-child-abuse-prevention-month/

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Texas

Child abuse reports in Fannin County rise 25 percent

by KXII

FANNIN COUNTY, Texas (KXII) -- The number of child abuse cases in Fannin County is rising, hitting a record high since they started tracking the numbers 16 years ago.

CPS data shows there were 135 victims of child abuse and neglect this past year in the county, 25 percent higher than the year before.

Fannin County authorities call the increase staggering, but there may be silver lining.

"It's a very sharp increase in the sexual abuse and physical abuse of children and it's very disturbing that we've had that much going on," Fannin County Sheriff Mark Johnson said.

With April being Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Fannin County Children's Center and county officials are speaking out about the increase in victims of abuse.

"The past three weeks, we've had a huge increase in sexual assault of children and the physical abuse of children, this current week, we've got two more," Sheriff Johnson said.

"Honestly this one is a real depressing report, ya know every year the numbers kind of ebb and flow, but this was the worst year since I've been at the center," Fannin County Children's Center Executive Director Sandy Barber said.

The center said the number of children taken from their home in the county per year normally ranges from five to 20, but last year, 46 children were removed.

Executive Director Sandy Barber said though this is the highest she's seen since she started there in 2001, the number of children served through counseling is also higher, with 789 sessions this past year.

"The good news is people are reporting this, professionals are able to investigate this and the professionals are able to provide treatment and healing for these kids," Barber said.

The sheriff's office said they just applied for a grant to hire an investigator to work directly with the children's center to crack down on this crime.

They said though they don't know what's behind the increase, they do know that as people become more aware, more people will report possible abuse.

"It's a matter of awareness, not just numbers, cause sexual assault has always been there, we will continue to prosecute them and keep Fannin County safe," Fannin County District Attorney Richard Glaser said.

The center is holding two free classes for community members to learn how to identify the warning signs and report child abuse.

The class “Stewards of Children” will be Tuesday, May 9 from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. at the center. The center said this class focuses on preventing child sexual abuse, as well as how to identify warning signs and how to respond when child sexual abuse is suspected.

The class “Recognize and Report” will be Tuesday, June 6 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the center. The center said this class focuses on recognizing and reporting all types of child abuse.

Both classes will be held at the center: 112 W. 5th Street in Bonham. To reserve your spot, contact Andrea at (903) 583-4339 or at andrea@fanninccc.org.

http://www.kxii.com/content/news/Child-abuse-reports-in-Fannin-County-rise-25-percent-420431073.html
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