LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and since the pandemic began one year ago, advocates for abuse victims have faced challenges in their work to help children.
“We know that when life is stressful, our most vulnerable citizens, which are our children, become in danger,” said Winn Stephens, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass.
Stephens says the center saw a record-breaking number of children last September, after what he says was a difficult summer right after the pandemic began. He also says the number of medical exams increased over the last year. However, Stephens says the number of abuse reports stayed about the same, but they expect that to change as more things reopen.
“The number one reporting source are school personnel,” he said. “Also, churches are a really big reporting source and coaches, all those folks that are out there to help kids.”
Stephens says adapting to the pandemic had some positive impacts, though. The center started holding virtual therapy sessions, which benefits families in other counties where it's more difficult to attend weekly sessions in Lexington.
Jill Seyfred, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, says by going virtual they've been able to get their message out to more people.
“We have already served more people this year than we did all of last year,” she said. “We know that there's a great demand for training, awareness, and educational services. It's up to us to figure out how to make sure that we get those resources into the hands of the folks who are requesting them.”
With the challenges seen over the last year, Seyfred says that's why it's so important to bring attention to this issue so people can help children in need.
If you suspect or know of a case of child abuse in Kentucky, you can report it to the Children's Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass by calling 1-877-597-2331.