WASHINGTON COUNTY – The Children’s Safety Center saw a record number of child abuse cases in April, the most since it opened its doors 21 years ago.
On average, the Children’s Safety Center sees around 60 kids per month. But in April, 113 children shared their stories of abuse.
“Child sexual abuse is the most prevalent health problem that children face, with likely the most serious array of consequences,” said Casey Atwood, program director for the center.
About 90 percent of the kids the center sees have gone through sexual abuse.
“It’s something people don’t like to talk about,” said Atwood.
From this time last year, the number of cases are up 36 percent.
“We feel like our numbers being higher is actually a good thing, because that means children are feeling safe to tell,” said Atwood.
Before April, the most kids it saw in a single month was 82 back in 2012.
“To go from that to 113 kids is a big jump,” said Atwood.
Atwood explained the answer to why there were more is tough to answer.
“It’s really kind of hard to tell. You never know when a child is going to disclose abuse. You never know when they’ll have that moment when they decide to say something,” said Atwood.
But the stats were still shocking.
“It’s even surprising to us and we do this day in and day out. We see kids come through all the time, and it was still a surprise to us that we were able to serve that many in April,” said Atwood.
The children she sees are referred to the center by law enforcement.
“So, they’ll come into the center and have an interview. They might have to have a sexual assault exam if that’s necessary,” said Atwood.
And it’s not always strangers that are hurting our children. “We see a lot of dads, moms’ boyfriends, stepdads and even older juvenile siblings,” said Atwood.
As for May, so far the center has seen 65 kids and Atwood said it might surpass April.
“That’s halfway through the month, so we can definitely top that number this month,” said Atwood.