Child Abuse Resources Available in Kent County

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — National Child Abuse Prevention Month ends Saturday, but talks about solutions aren’t expected to end with April.

“Almost 13,000 children were involved in a child protective services investigation last year in 2021. 1,700 of them were confirmed victims of neglect or abuse,” said Wendy Wheeler , Kent County Child Welfare Program Manager for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

She quoted Number of children data starting in 2021, which comes from the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Wheeler shared several resources available in Kent County for reporting suspected cases of child abuse. The general phone line is 1.855.444.3911. Support websites are also available: kentparentinfo.com, SuccessStartsEarly.org and the site for Heart of West Michigan United Way 211.

Wheeler was keen to acknowledge that children themselves can report abuse. She mentioned the OK2SAY statewide program that provides an anonymous hotline to report bullying, suicide prevention, dangerous behavior in schools and more. In March, the most recent month with data available25 signs of child abuse were reported.

Wheeler said resources like these can be used by older children, but also stressed the importance of having adults to report issues to.

“We encourage parents to talk about who is a safe adult, who is someone you can talk to — someone within the family and someone outside the family,” Wheeler said.

ABUSE IN OTHER FORMS AND LOCAL RESOURCES

“Ninety-nine percent of the time here in Kent County, we find that child abuse victims know their abuser and know them well,” said Prevention Program Manager Andrea Woller. to Children’s Advocacy Center of Kent County, an organization focused on providing resources to child victims of sexual abuse.

According to the National Children’s Advocacy Center, 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

“It happens because child sexual abuse thrives on silence,” Woller said.

She said the CAC strives to get into places like schools to teach children to trust prominent adults in their lives who can report potential abuse.

“We talk to kids about having a safety network of adults so they know they have adults they can go to with this kind of thing in more than one place, so they know where to go. produce the abuse, they have adults in the parts of their lives that they often see and feel comfortable with,” Woller said.

The Kent County Child and Adult Protective Services hotline, which is available around the clock, is 855.444.3911.

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