Child Watch Children’s Advocacy Center, established in 1984, is a private, non-profit organization serving Kentucky’s Purchase area
Mission: To provide a child-friendly environment for the prevention, evaluation, and treatment of child abuse and neglect
All services of Child Watch are provided free of charge; (270) 443-1440, childwatchcac.org
Joey and Jenna lost their baby sister when their stepfather beat her so severely she didn’t survive. The young siblings are fearful and struggle with mistrust, anger, sorrow, and confusion.
Five-year-old Colin has great difficulty being alone with adults. Ever since a trusted adult physically and sexually abused him, he doesn’t trust anyone and will hardly leave his mother’s side.
Andre and Whitney witnessed their mother’s homicide. They miss their mother terribly, and the young siblings live in fear that they, too, might be killed.
Although their names and identifying details have been changed, the children mentioned above are real. Their stories are real, and they are our stories. We know these children; we go to school with them; we work with their family members; we worship with them. They are our children. And they provide only a small sample of cases “in our backyard.”
In Kentucky, nearly 49,000 reports of child abuse or neglect involving more than 63,000 children met acceptance criteria of Child Protective Services in 2011. Research tells us that many additional cases of child abuse go unreported.
When you read the stories and hear the statistics, you may think there’s no hope for these children, but you would be wrong. Multiple studies show that children who are abused benefit dramatically from intervention and treatment. The silver lining to the stories and statistics is that programs like Child Watch exist.
Providing direct services to approximately 450 child abuse victims and non-offending caregivers annually, Child Watch offers professional therapy services, victim advocacy, and court advocacy (CASA) for children. By providing healing services, we are helping a child today, and we are impacting the adult that child will become tomorrow.
In the book A Child Called It, author Dave Pelzer recounts a childhood of abuse so horrific it is unfathomable; in the documentary Healing Neen (and upcoming movie starring Jennifer Hudson), the life of Tonier Cain is recounted from a childhood of extreme abuse through multiple rapes, addiction, and extended homelessness as an adult. Pelzer and Cain overcame their horrific experiences to become well-adjusted adults—sought-after speakers, authors, advocates, parents. So, too, can the children we serve.
We must intervene. We must ensure appropriate services are available and accessible. We must not give up on a child. We must let healing begin.