Child Abuse Prevention: We Are All In This Together

Published 2:46 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2022

By: Winn Stephens, Executive Director of Children’s Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass

As Child Abuse Prevention Month has ended, I have been reflecting on Kentucky’s ranking near the bottom of child abuse cases nationwide. In 2020, Kentucky ranked 5th in total reported cases of child abuse. In the two years prior, Kentucky was 1st. Too many children across our Commonwealth are victims of abuse – often by those who are closest to them or in positions of trust.

At the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass, we often see the worst of these cases. The majority of the 1,000 children we see each year are victims of sexual abuse. Often, I am asked how our staff members are able to stomach the nature of this difficult work. “I could never do your job,” they say. I understand that sentiment but also know that we’re making a difference every day.

We see the relief in the eyes of a 7-year-old boy who discloses his story of abuse for the first time. He’s comforted to share the painful secret he’s shouldered alone for months and knows that life will now be a little safer for him. We’re inspired by the teenage girl who blossoms in therapy. She now holds her head a little higher because she’s learned to trust again.

Each day, we witness the beautiful transformation from Victim to Survivor to Thriver. This is exactly why I’m proud to be part of the broader network of organizations working to eradicate child abuse and serving child victims.

From Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky’s awareness, education and training to CASA’s advocacy on behalf of abused children, and the incredible work of our local Commonwealth’s Attorneys, county attorneys, law enforcement, and Cabinet for Health and Family Services social workers, we are all committed to working together to make Kentucky a place where all children have the chance to live happy, healthy lives.

Central Kentucky is blessed to have so many agencies working on behalf of children. The state legislature recently approved an increase in funding to Children’s Advocacy Centers and other agencies supporting child abuse victims. But these steps alone will not be enough. We need each and every person throughout this region to step up and help put an end to child abuse.

Together, we can end the scourge of child abuse in our Commonwealth. Together, we can make Kentucky the safest place in America to grow up. We all play a part. If you suspect a child is being abused, call the child abuse hotline at: (877) 597-2331 or report online via the Kentucky Child Protective Services website.

For more information about the Child Abuse Prevention Month or the services provided by the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass, contact Taylor Ballinger, Engagement Director, at 859-225-5437 or via e-mail at taylor@kykids.org.

Since 1994, the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass’s mission is to reduce the trauma experienced by sexually abused children by providing services to them in a nurturing, friendly, and safe environment. They coordinate the agencies involved in the treatment, investigation, and prosecution of child abuse cases across 17 central Kentucky counties. In 2022, over 1,000 children will be seen at the Center for forensic interviews, medical exams, advocacy, and therapy services. All services are provided free of charge.