from child advocacy agencies, the Department of Health and Human Resources, law
enforcement, public education, community groups and private citizens
statewide organization “Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia” is funding child-issues forums
across the state.
national statistics say one in 4 girls and one in 6 boys under the age of 18
have been sexually abused, and that only one in 10 tell,” said Scott Miller, Executive
Director of Just For Kids which hosted the event.
Just For Kids is a Child Advocacy Center in Beckley serving Raleigh, Fayette and Wyoming counties.
interviewed 271 children between the ages of 3-18 last year, and if the
statistics are correct and only one in 10 tell, there are about 2700 cases just
in these three counties alone.”
Kids works with Child Protective Services and law enforcement when there is
alleged child criminal abuse. Its nationally trained interviewers spend time
with children to help determine what happened.
indicates this reduces the trauma for the child, according to Miller.
If abuse is
disclosed, Just For Kids provides counseling. The agency also provides
prevention and awareness programs throughout the area.
that I give the statistics to is shocked. Then nothing much happens,” said
Miller. “With the Penn State and Syracuse sexual abuse allegations, people
are now clearly aware that this goes on, but what are we doing about it?”
"I know if
everyone in the community is conscience of the issues that go on, that it will
reduce the incidents of sexual abuse and certainly child abuse over all,” he
The Family Resource Networks of Raleigh, Wyoming and Fayette counties gave presentations
on the child-focused programs they’ve been able to coordinate and expand in
their counties. They reported on parenting classes, early literacy programs,
faith-based services, and teen peer-review and support groups.
Jennings of the Fayette County Family Resource Network believes the biggest
issue in Fayette County, as well as southern West Virginia, is prescription drug abuse.
statistic I heard was 20% of babies born in Raleigh General Hospital are addicted or have some kind of
drug in their system,” said Jennings.
is drug abuse a problem, truancy is a problem in Fayette County,” he said. “The last statistics
that we saw we had about 1970 children truant with more than 10 absences. There
are only 6000 students registered in Fayette County.”
not being in school is going to affect their educational ability and if we
don’t solve that we’re just going to continue the cycle of problems that we
Jennings stressed the goal is intervention
with education, so that children would never have to be removed from their
that comes into foster care is going to have problems later on,” he said. “Research
shows that any child going into foster care continues to have problems with
education, there are higher dropout percentages, and more people are into
“So what we
need to do is prevent that. We need to have services out there to help families
so they don’t have to become involved with Child Protective Services.”
Rep. Nick Joe
Rahall attended the conference, calling the safety of children a moral
hold sacred the trust that children naturally place in adults and pursue and
prosecute those who would do them harm,” said Rahall.
continue to invest in our communities, law enforcement, and first responders to
make sure they have the tools and technology with which to protect our children
from predators,” he said.
was opened for an exchange of questions and ideas. When a participant pointed
out that Raleigh County teachers are not trained in a
sexual abuse prevention program, Miller Hall, Director of Secondary Education
for Raleigh County Schools, took the microphone.
just said really touched me,” said Hall.
you I’ll take it back to the Superintendent and we’ll get that in teacher staff
development because that’s not the way it should be,” he said. “And I promise
you, I’ll get that done.”
also learned that House bill 4240 and its companion in the Senate, SB 161,
known as the Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia Act is making its way through
the legislative process.
The bill would
invest $1 million in education and prevention programs – and increase
the fine for failure to report sexual abuse from $100 to $1000.
passed its bill Monday and sent it to the House of Delegates.