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Summit County

Annual Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month seeks to educate

Childrens Justice Center logo.png
Summit County Children's Justice Center

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month, and the Children’s Justice Center of Summit County provides a safe, comfortable environment where children victimized by abuse or maltreatment can talk about their experiences in a child-friendly environment.

Christina Sally works as a Summit County Sheriff’s Office Investigator, and also founded the Children’s Justice Center. She says recognizing April this way is a chance to bring child abuse and maltreatment to the forefront.

“Really, it was to bring to light the resources that are available to children and families as well to help build resilience and address the issues that secondary trauma victims face, which could be other family members. So that there's a real comprehensive approach to responding to child abuse and maltreatment.”

The Children’s Justice Center has a list of dos and don’ts for talking to children about the subject that can be reviewed on its website. Most importantly she says, everyone is a mandatory reporter - if anyone suspects, sees, or hears of child abuse, it must be reported it to law enforcement or the Division of Child and Family Services, even if it doesn’t seem believable.

“I think sometimes as a trusted adult, we may feel like, oh, I don't know if this child is telling the truth. So, they may be reluctant to report. Maybe the child is disclosing something about a person that the child knows that's done something to them, and maybe the reporting person knows that person as well, and may think, oh, that person couldn't have done this. And so, they sort of form these, it's really hard to wrap your head around somebody's hurting a child. And so, you might go to that place of denial like, oh, that couldn't have happened. I know this person.”

Sally adds that all reporting may be done anonymously. The Sheriff’s office number is 435-615-3600 and the DCFS hotline is 855-323-3237.

Sally also runs a summer camp for children five and six years old about keeping their bodies safe. That information is available on the web version of this story.