Thursday, September 19, 2013
Within the last week, Wichita hospitals have seen an 8-day-old baby with a broken leg, another baby with drugs in its system, and now a baby with bruises and possible bleeding on the brain.
The headlines of alleged child abuse have been disturbing to many people in the Wichita area.
"It should disturb us, it should make us upset, it should frustrate us because children don't deserve to have abuse occur to them," said Diana Schunn, Executive Director of the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County.
But while there have been a cluster of cases that have gained attention over the past week, Wichita Police and other local organizations say there isn't necessarily an increase in cases. But, that doesn't make the recent abuse allegations any less concerning.
"Overall the numbers have remained fairly stable in the number of cases that we are seeing," Schunn said.
Wichita Police have investigated 170 cases of alleged physical abuse so far this year. They've investigated another 138 cases of endangering of a child, including two last week in which children were found wandering the streets unattended.
Numbers from past years weren't immediately available, police said.
The Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County says it sees about 2,000 cases a year of all kinds of child abuse. The organization provides advocacy, therapy and coordination of services almost immediately after officers from the EMCU begin an investigation.
Leaders of the organization say more than 60 percent of the cases they see involve a child under the age of 8.
"When our children are that young, we have an obligation as adults to interact and become involved in that concern," Schunn said.
In other words she says, if you suspect something is wrong with a child in your community, get involved and make a call to the proper authorities.
"So often we hear from someone saying, 'What if I'm wrong, what if I make a report and I'm not right. Look at all the trouble I might cause.' I might flip that question, 'What if you're right and do nothing and you end up with a child who is severely injured, damaged, or for years has to suffer abuse," Schunn said.
Local child advocates say if you are concerned about a child, it's probably best to make two calls. They say your first call should be to 911. Your second call should be the Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF can be reached at 1 (800) 922-5330.