Suspect Child Abuse? Don’t Hesitate!

Reporting suspected child abuse is a life or death decision.

We work very hard to protect the children of this community, but we cannot help a child if we do not know something is happening.  And often, we do not know.

There are more than 200,000 children in this community and we have a little more than 200 Children’s Services workers. The sheer magnitude of possibilities requires us to rely on members of our community to be our eyes and ears when we are not around.

We often hear, after a tragic situation, that someone knew something was going on, but didn’t report it to our 241-KIDS hotline. I hope I can convince you to take that next step if you ever find yourself in that situation.

Some of our worst abuse cases involve children who are too young to tell us what is happening to them. They cannot reach out for help.

But someone sees that child on a regular basis. They see the bruises and hear the questionable excuses. They notice the child losing weight and hoarding food because she isn’t eating at home. They hear the screaming and crying coming from their neighbor’s house.

Whether it be a neighbor, child care provider, teacher, doctor, aunt, uncle, family friend – someone knows something isn’t right with that child.

We need them to pick up the phone and call us.

Child abusers go out of their way to hide their actions. It is unrealistic to believe that someone who would beat an innocent child would do it openly, or tell the truth about it happening.

We launched the Do, Ask, Do Tell public awareness campaign in 2011. The campaign was aimed at encouraging legally-mandated reporters to call us when they suspect abuse. But it was also a call out to the whole community to call 241-KIDS if they saw anything that, in their gut, made them suspect abuse.

Nine out of 10 cases of child abuse go unreported, according to recent studies. Approximately 2,500 Hamilton County children are found to be victims of child abuse and neglect each year, so that number would skyrocket to more than 20,000 if studies hold true.

This is unacceptable. Help us. Join us. Call us.

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A Remarkable Foster Parent

Like all parents, the things foster parents do to care for their children is truly astounding. Most foster parents really are unsung heroes and their accomplishments are too numerous to count. But as foster care month continues, I thought I would highlight the accomplishments of one woman who took extraordinary steps to stay with her foster child.

Nine years ago, Sarah Johnson was not sure she wanted to take on any more foster children; she had already raised seven, four of whom she had adopted. But a caseworker at St. Aloysius Orphanage knew then 12-year-old Willie needed someone special. Not only does Willie have Down syndrome, but at the time he was suffering from a variety of serious health problems, including heart complications and kidney disease. Sarah could not shake what she calls ‘God’s will’ and lovingly accepted Willie into her home, nursing him through his considerable health issues.

But Sarah always knew she could not be Willie’s foster parent forever. Eventually Willie would age out of the foster care system and need a caregiver through Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services. Without a high school diploma, Sarah could not qualify to be Willie’s caregiver, and at 67 with an 11th grade education, Sarah was understandably intimidated. Luckily, her caseworker, Tina, talked her into at least attempting the GED test. For four months, Sarah’s grandson, brothers, sisters, church members and pastor helped her study. When she finally took the GED in March, she earned a perfect score, and Willie will be able stay.

I applaud Sarah for her hard work and incredible dedication. But while Sarah’s accomplishments are extraordinary, I want to again thank all foster parents for their remarkable efforts to provide foster children with a loving home.