If you gathered the annual victims of child abuse in Kentucky, they would not fit in Slugger Field. The fact that so many Kentucky children suffer from physical, sexual or psychological abuse, or neglect is a sobering thought.
In 2013, Kosair Charities began a 10-year initiative to eliminate the problem, mobilizing statewide initiatives that include legislative efforts in the Kentucky General Assembly and on-the-ground efforts involving education for caregivers to spot warning signs in children.
The program, called Face It Abuse directly addresses the increasingly unacceptable number of child abuse deaths in Jefferson County and the surrounding areas with best practices in child abuse prevention, community engagement and the promotion of effective policies to improve the child welfare system.
“All of us realize it’s unlikely that we can completely eliminate it, but we’re unwilling to consider that some abuse is OK,” said Dr. Melissa Currie, associate professor and director of the Kosair Charities Division of Pediatric Forensic Medicine at the U of L School of Medicine. “The 2023 plan is a vision for all of us to work toward.”
Currie believes that everyone who has contact with a child is responsible to report suspected abuse, and said that Kentucky law addresses the issue as well. “In Kentucky, child protection is everyone’s job, If you have a reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect, you are required to report it.”
Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said that Face It has a large mission to educate.
“Kosair Charities is supporting work by doctors and teachers and child care workers and preachers and athletic coaches and young people themselves to think about how we can better identify and eliminate child abuse in Louisville,” Brooks said.
A bill passed in the last General Assembly in the last session mandated that medical professionals get training to recognize head trauma.
“A three-year-old with a bruised ear is probably not just an accident, but it’s probably a signal,” he said.
In fact, Brooks said many people either don’t realize or have assumptions that child abuse only happens to other people. “You always picture the creepy guy in the park or that stranger in the car. In fact, by far the majority of kids abused are abused by family members or the boyfriend or girlfriend of Mom or Dad,” he said.
Currie, who is leading efforts to provide training for medical professionals, said simply recognizing dangerous situations can help. “Many real warning signs can look like something else,” she said. “We can help doctors learn to consider head trauma as a possibility.”
The Face It movement has already made great progress in just over a year of existence. Two dozen organizations have become Face It partners. But facing child abuse in our community os both an opportunity and an obligation for everyone. Many members of our community have become Face It ambassadors. Click here to find out how to help: http://faceitabuse.org/get-involved/how-you-can-help/
If you see or suspect a child is a victim of abuse, call 1-877-597-2331 to report it.