Janesville68.6°

A place full of CARE

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
April 12, 2008
— Three-year-old Gavin was in mental distress.

He was crying uncontrollably and having nightmares.


He also was scared of his grandpa.


“He wouldn’t let me change his diaper,’’ Grandpa John said.


That’s when Gavin’s grandparents became suspicious.


Grandma Mary asked what was wrong when Gavin told her his Mommy’s friend hurt him, explained how and said it hurt.


Immediately, Gavin’s grandparents called a lawyer, who referred them to Rock County Child Protective Services. From there, they were connected with a Janesville Police Department detective, who referred them to the YWCA of Rock County’s CARE House.


The first of its kind in Wisconsin, this child advocacy center was established 15 years ago in Janesville and provides a child-centered approach to the prevention, investigation and treatment of child abuse and neglect, said Mary Ann Burkheimer, program director.


“CARE House provides a child-focused, child friendly environment in which trained professionals from many disciplines—law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, family and victim advocacy—work together, conducting joint forensic interviews and making team decisions that keep the interests of the child victim central,’’ she said.


Gavin was among 127 children, between 3 and 17, interviewed at the CARE House last year.


During recent years, the CARE House has worked with even more abused children. Interviews with 179 children were videotaped—which helps minimize the trauma of the investigation by eliminating duplicate interviews—in 2006, 157 in 2005, 134 in 2004 and 143 in 2003.


April—National Child Abuse Prevention Month—is a good time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect. That’s why the Prevent Child Abuse-Rock County Team, a project of Partners in Prevention-Rock County, is hosting “Bullying & Internet Safety: Exposing the Hidden Threats,” a prevention and intervention conference for all child care professionals, teachers, parents and grandparents from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 19, at the Rock County Job Center, 1900 Center Ave. Call (608) 755-4750, Ext. 404, with questions.


The CARE House helped John, Mary and Gavin, who was sexually abused twice within six months last year, through their difficult time.


“It provided a shoulder to cry on, counseling and a way for Gavin to creatively and constructively vent his feelings about his situation,” John said.


A CARE House counselor worked with John, Mary and Gavin. Afterward, Gavin became more talkative and warmed up to his grandpa again. The nightmares also went away.


“He’s just a happy, go-lucky guy,” Mary said.


The counselor also asked John and Mary, who have legal guardianship of Gavin, questions and shared ideas on how to help Gavin.


“She suggested more interaction to try to help him,” Mary said.


Gavin also was kept away from his mother, for a while, and today she is allowed to see him only in public places while he is in constant companionship of his grandparents.


Gavin has made such tremendous progress; he no longer attends counseling sessions at the CARE House. John still seeks counseling, and Mary knows she can stop in at the CARE House any time she wants and somebody will be there she can talk to.


“It’s part of the ongoing support system available,” said Allison Hokinson, director of community relations at the YWCA.


But the most beneficial aspect of the CARE House, John said, is “knowing there are trained, caring professional people here that understand what we collectively have gone through and are willing to go to the extra mile to help.’’


In every case, the CARE House has follow-up contacts at two weeks, three months, six months and anytime in between,’’ Burkheimer said.


The healing process, after a child has been abused is much like grieving death, Hokinson said.


“It can be triggered by smells in the air and anger surges when they see their daughter,’’ she said. But the CARE House provides mechanisms and self tools to overcome that, Hokinson said.


“Once a family is served they can always access our services, which is a big pool of resources,” she said. “And if there is something we can’t help with we have go-to people to tap into.”


CHILD ABUSE BY THE NUMBERS


90


Percent of sexual abuse cases in which the child and the child’s family know and trust the abuser


39 million


Number of survivors of child sexual abuse in America today


1 in 4


Ratio of girls sexually abused before their 18th birthdays


1 in 6


Ratio of boys sexually abused before their 18th birthdays


1 in 5


Ratio of children who are sexually solicited while on the Internet


Nearly 70


Percent of reported sexual assaults that involve victims 17 and younger


Nearly 40


Percent of children who are abused by older or larger children


SUPPORT GROUPS


Who: YWCA CARE House.


What: Lessons for Life is a communitywide support group for children 6 to 11 and 12 to 15, who have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse, to learn elements of self-esteem, trust, friendship and communication by sharing with other group participants in a fun and interactive atmosphere that aids healing.


When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, starting April 3 for six weeks.


What: Take Care, a community support group for parents and guardians of abused or neglected children that allows participants to share, vent and learn with each other in order to begin healing. Facilitated by professionals, Take Care examines the emotions families go through when dealing with child abuse and neglect and offers practical information and support to help families move forward.


When: 6 to 7:30 p.m., the fourth Monday of each month, starting in June.


Where: YWCA CARE House, 1126 Conde St., Janesville.


For more information: Call (608) 755-4750 or visit www.ywca.org/rockcounty.


THE SIGNS OF ABUSE


Physical


Bruises, welts on face, neck, chest, back.


Injuries in the shape of an object—belt, cord or iron.


Unexplained burns on palms, soles, back.


Fractures that do not fit story of injury.


Delay in seeking medical help.


Extremes in child’s behavior—very aggressive or withdrawn and shy (unlike the child’s typical behavior).


Afraid to go home.


Frightened of parents/caregivers.


Fearful of other adults.


Emotional


Low self-esteem.


Self-denigration.


Severe depression.


Aggression.


Withdrawal.


Severe anxiety.


Failure to learn.


Sexual


Pain, swelling or itching in genital area.


Bruises, bleeding, discharge in genital area.


Difficulty walking or sitting, frequent urination.


Stained or bloody underclothing.


Sexually transmitted infections.


Refusal to take part in gym or other exercises.


Poor peer relationships.


Unusual interest in sex for age, unusual knowledge of sex terminology.


Drastic change in school achievement.


Runaway or delinquent.


Regressive or childlike behavior.


Neglect


Poor hygiene, body odor.


Inappropriately dressed for weather.


Needs medical or dental care.


Left alone, unsupervised, for long periods of time (depending on child’s age).


Failure to thrive, malnutrition.


Constant hunger, begs or steals food.


Extreme willingness to please.


Frequent absence from school.


Arrives early and stays late at school or play areas or other people’s homes.


REPORTING CHILD ABUSE


Two agencies that handle most reports of abuse are:


-- Child Protective Services


Rock County—(608) 757-5401


-- Law Enforcement


Beloit Police—(608) 364-6800


Town of Beloit Police—(608) 364-2984


Clinton Police—(608) 676-5140


Edgerton Police—(608) 884-3321


Evansville Police—(608) 882-2299


Janesville Police—(608) 755-3100


Milton Police—(608) 868-6910


Town of Milton Police—(608) 868-6656


Orfordville Police—(608) 879-9212


Rock County Sheriff’s Department—(608) 757-8000


911


(All 50 states require professionals who work with children report reasonable suspicions of child abuse. Some states require that anyone with suspicions report it. Information about each state’s requirements is available at the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov.


If the legal system does not provide adequate protection for a child, visit the National Center for Victims of Crime at www.ncvc.org or call 1-800-FYI-CALL/394-2255 for referral information.)


PROTECTING CHILDREN


n Learn the facts and understand the risk—Realities, not trust, should influence your decisions regarding children.


n Minimize opportunity—If you eliminate or reduce one-adult/one-child situations, you’ll dramatically lower the risk of sexual abuse for children.


n Talk about it—Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking openly about it.


n Stay alert—Don’t expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. Signs are often there but you’ve got to spot them.


n Make a plan—Learn where to go, whom to call, and how to react.


n Act on suspicions—The future well being of a child is at stake.


n Get involved—Volunteer and financially support organizations that fight the tragedy of sexual abuse.


—The Darkness to Light National Advisory Committee


REPORTING CHILD ABUSE


Two agencies that handle most reports of abuse are:


n Child Protective Services


Rock County—(608) 757-5401


n Law Enforcement


Beloit Police—(608) 364-6800


Town of Beloit Police—(608) 364-2984


Clinton Police—(608) 676-5140


Edgerton Police—(608) 884-3321


Evansville Police—(608) 882-2299


Janesville Police—(608) 755-3100


Milton Police—(608) 868-6910


Town of Milton Police—(608) 868-6656


Orfordville Police—(608) 879-9212


Rock County Sheriff’s Department—(608) 757-8000


911


(All 50 states require professionals who work with children report reasonable suspicions of child abuse. Some states require that anyone with suspicions report it. Information about each state’s requirements is available at the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov.


If the legal system does not provide adequate protection for a child, visit the National Center for Victims of Crime at www.ncvc.org or call 1-800-FYI-CALL/394-2255 for referral information.)


SUPPORT GROUPS


Who: YWCA CARE House.


What: Lessons for Life is a communitywide support group for children 6 to 11 and 12 to 15, who have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse, to learn elements of self-esteem, trust, friendship and communication by sharing with other group participants in a fun and interactive atmosphere that aids healing.


When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, starting April 3 for six weeks.


What: Take Care, a community support group for parents and guardians of abused or neglected children that allows participants to share, vent and learn with each other in order to begin healing. Facilitated by professionals, Take Care examines the emotions families go through when dealing with child abuse and neglect and offers practical information and support to help families move forward.


When: 6 to 7:30 p.m., the fourth Monday of each month, starting in June.


Where: YWCA CARE House, 1126 Conde St., Janesville.


For more information: Call (608) 755-4750 or visit www.ywca.org/rockcounty.



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