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Let's start the conversation

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Beth Wheelock Tallon
July 9, 2012

We're not here to guilt-trip you into being a better person.

If we started talking about things we should do, I'd deserve a lecture myself.

Instead, we're starting a collaborative blog featuring writers from Rock County's non-profit agencies.

Representatives from the Boys & Girls Club, ECHO, Community Action, United Way and YWCA Rock County will take turns exploring regional and national issues to show how a community might come together to address them.

As you may know, I am the Public Relations Director at YWCA Rock County. YWCA Rock County is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

I'll start this blog with a very serious topic: Jerry Sandusky and child sexual abuse.

The scope of that crime almost seems unimaginable in Rock County. When crimes of that magnitude gain national attention, it's a natural reaction to say it couldn't possibly happen here.

Well, it has happened in Janesville.

YWCA Rock County's CARE House is the only child advocacy center in Rock County. CARE House provides a welcoming environment for children who have been abused or neglected, so they can be interviewed once instead of traveling from agency to agency having to retell their painful story multiple times. Representatives from law enforcement, the district attorney's office and child protective services view the interview from another room. The interview is also recorded, and different aspects of it can be admissible in court.

One of the most poignant parts of CARE House is the wall of handprints. After each interview, the child is invited to place his or her hand print on the wall. Often, seeing close to 2000 handprints all different sizes shows child victims they are not alone, and that others have gone through the same process.

There's strength gained when you don't feel singled out: Nearly all the victims in the Sandusky court proceedings said they came forward because they heard of other victims. They now know they are not alone in what happened to them.

How do we help these kids? Reporting suspected abuse is the biggest way to make a difference. If you're afraid to report your suspicions, think of the courage it takes a child to tell of abuse, especially if it's by a trusted adult. All you have to do is make a call -- trained professionals from law enforcement or Child Protective Services take it from there and calls are kept confidential.

For the Missouri girl found locked in a closet, a phone call likely saved her life.

Further resources are available on the Child Abuse Prevention page at YWCA Rock County's website.

If you'd like to make a difference in another way, the YWCA Rock County CARE House Golf Outing is coming up on July 20. Not a golfer? Dinner and live music follow the golf event.

The YWCA CARE House serves an average of 150 abused or neglected local children every year. Many more need our help.

Let's take action as a community, and show that this behavior is unacceptable.

It is not okay.



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