St. Charles County child center fights to stand up for abused, n - KMOV.com

St. Charles County child center fights to stand up for abused, neglected children

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(Credit: St. Charles County PD) (Credit: St. Charles County PD)

ST. CHARLES COUNTY (KMOV.com) – St. Charles County is using April’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month as a wake-up call for all communities.

The police department, prosecuting attorney’s office and non-profits came together to push a new county-wide fight to stand up for children.

A mother of an abused victim said, “It is so important to stand up. Stand up and speak if you feel like something is going on, doesn't seem quite right. Speak up as part of the community consensus to bring this to light."

The Child Center Inc. in Wentzville, Missouri says they had to make changes because more and more kids are talking about the terrible things they have been through.

Sissy Swift, Executive Director of The Child Center, Inc. said, “I think the thing people don't get are these are children, these are cases in our neighborhood. They're not strangers somewhere."

Swift says her center is seeing an increase number of children ages 3 – 17 sharing horrific stories of abuse and neglect.

Cases have jumped from 389 in 2013 to 425 in 2014 and up to 503 in 2015.

As a result of the growing number of children, the center had to add another interview room. Forensic interviewers like Michelle Stille, have to rely even more on the center’s dog, Reeka, to help the children.

"If they get upset, she [Reeka] feels that, she can read that and she will comfort that child," said Stille.

The center says the increase in cases are connected to a recent push to get its prevention programs in every school in St. Charles County. The prevention programs will raise awareness among students and staff. The programs will also teach the students about the three “L”s.

"Statistics tell us majority of time, it's someone they like, love or live with. That is the perpetrator," said Swift.

St. Charles County authorities are asking everyone to not close your eyes to child abuse and neglect.             

"It's really important for people to just talk about. If people don't talk about it, it will remain taboo and it will be harder for kids to talk about and harder for adults to know what to do," said Stille.

Collectively, the Child Center, Inc. serves 14 counties.

If you suspect abuse or neglect, you can report it anonymously by calling the Missouri (1-800-392-3738) or Illinois (1-800-252-2873) child abuse hotlines.

Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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