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Advocates gather in Louisville for annual rally to end child abuse

2024 Rally to End Child Abuse

April 1, 2024

Ahead of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, pinwheels spin in the grass and a proclamation is read commemorating Family & Children’s Place efforts, for more than a century, to help protect kids.

But, on Thursday, the nonprofit’s annual rally to end child abuse also highlighted, that there’s still much to do. President and CEO, Pam Darnall says even one child being harmed, is one too many.

“Across our country every day we lose nearly 5 children who die as a result of child maltreatment, that’s over 1,800 children a year,” said Darnall.

Less than five years ago, Kentucky led the nation in child abuse rates. Today, that’s dropped with the commonwealth and Indiana holding the 14th and 15th abuse and neglect rates, respectively, in the country.

“We didn’t drop from number one, the most abysmal spot you can be in, to 14 by accident, it took collaboration,” said Kentucky Congressman Morgan McGarvey.

In addition to Family and Children’s Place resources and programs, other champions to safeguard kids include police, health professionals, lawmakers, investments in child advocacy centers, special victims’ units, and prosecutors.

Just last year in Jefferson County, the commonwealth’s attorney office prosecuted more than 140 cases of child abuse, exploitation, and violence involving children.

“It’s our responsibility that we dedicate our time, our talent, and resources to changing the narrative,” said Gerina Whethers. “We don’t do this every day just to be doing it, we’re actually here to make a change.”

Advocates say that the pathway to change includes awareness, empowerment, and prevention to strengthen families and make a difference in children’s lives.

Kentucky’s room for improvement with this issue also includes addressing the staggering number of children who accidentally ingest substances, such as drugs.

Darnall says since 2021, these instances have doubled and 89% of the children affected were four years old.

“We understand that substance abuse and disorder can be so difficult, but there’s no excuse ever for children to ingest those substances,” she said. “We have to make sure kids are kept safe in their own homes.”

In Kentucky and Indiana, everyone is mandated to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

In Kentucky, the number to call to report suspected child abuse is (877) KY-SAFE1 (597-2331). The Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is 1-800-800-5556The National Child Abuse Hotline is (800) 4-A-CHILD (422-4453).

Read the article here from WLKY.