The Barton County Commission has proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. This states child abuse and neglect can be reduced by making sure families have the support needed to raise children in a healthy environment and that there are dedicated individuals and organizations in Barton County working to counter these problems, said Kasey Dalke, child advocacy director/forensic interviewer for the Family Crisis Center.
The mission of the Dell Hayden Memorial Child Advocacy Center is “Providing victims of child abuse and their families a multidisciplinary response, advocacy and support to reduce trauma and hold perpetrators accountable while creating a safer community through awareness, education, and prevention,” Dalke said.
“It’s a community problem,” Dalke said. “We all need to be involved.”
Family Crisis Center Executive Director Joanne Wondra said the Child Advocacy Center served 112 children in 2017. Staff also:
• Conducted 109 forensic interviews with children;
• Held 32 collaboration meetings with Kansas Department of Children and Families, local law enforcement and St. Francis Family Services to discuss cases involving children; and
• Provided advocacy to 126 non-offending caregivers or children (such as parents, family members and foster parents).
The numbers are about 15 percent higher than they were in 2016, continuing an upward trend. And, sadly, Wondra said, the center is already on a record-setting pace for forensic interviews in 2018.
“It’s sad,” she said. “It’s awful.”
• Eighty percent of those assaults are carried out on victims under the age of 30.
• Girls ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be sexual assault victims.
• Nearly 10 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt by their boyfriend.