New Valley Attack Against Child Abuse

January 16, 2009 5:47:13 PM PST
Experts believe the sour economy is to blame for a disturbing trend. The number of child abuse cases is on the rise locally. Friday, several valley agencies announced the formation of a new task force to battle the increase. And following the recent death of a ten-year old this new group says it's time to reduce the abuse.Last Tuesday our viewers learned that Fresno police were investigating the death of ten-year old Seth Ireland -- allegedly beaten by his mother's boyfriend. Friday, in response, several local groups united to form the "Child Abuse Prevention and Resource Task Force."

"Unfortunately Seth Ireland's case is not an isolated case," said task force leader Pam Kallsen.

Kallsen said the abuse Ireland faced is just one of thousands of cases reviewed each month here in the Valley. Kallsen said there is a direct connection between child abuse and the bad economy.

"We are also seeing more stressed placed on our families and therefore that translates, unfortunately, to more abuse of children," said Kallsen.

Locally Child Protective Services handles 1045 reports of abuse a month. Over 682 require investigation and on average 74 children are removed from their home. The goal of the new alliance is to reduce these numbers by making resources more accesible.

"We want to make it easy for families who are feeling overwhelmed during these economic times to reach out for help," said Kallsen.

"We are all here today to ask the community to partner with all of us to prevent abuse of all forms," said Leanne Kozub with the Children's Hospital Child Advocacy.

Abuse not only means adult on child it can also be caregiver or child-sitter such as the Clovis 13-year old boy who police say severely injuried 2-year old Jennifer Yang in December sending her to the hospital. Yang was taken off life support and later died.

"It's just so devastating and it affects our entire society," said Esther Franco with the Counsel on Child Abuse Prevention.

Fighting abuse also means raising awareness ... and in the coming months, the task force will launch a media blitz with with radio ads, billboards and pamphlets.

The new task force plans to meet once a month. Fundraising efforts are already underway to pay for their campaign.

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