Serving the children: Child Protection Center spotlights abuse
By Lisa L. Mizell, CEO, Child Protection Center (blogpost also featured at Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City’s Blog)
Every year, the Child Protection Center (CPC) serves hundreds of abused children and their caregivers. Since the CPC’s door opened in 1996, it has served over 12,000 children and its mission has remained the same: respect the child, and protect their voice throughout the investigation of child abuse. Since April is Child Abuse Prevention month, it gives the CPC an opportunity to spotlight an ever-growing problem and the many manifestations of abuse.
At the CPC, we not only see children who are sexually and physically abused, but also those children who have witnessed violence. This number is on the rise and can have a devastating effect on a child. It is hard to imagine what kind of strength it takes to recover from seeing a loved one murdered. Daily we are reminded of the resilience of children. With early and appropriate intervention, most children are able to heal.
CPC serves children and families in Jackson and Cass counties at no charge. This valuable service is the first step in making a victim a survivor. Prior to the CPC’s existence, a child often told his/her story about sexual or physical abuse to many different people, including law enforcement, Children’s Division workers, prosecutors and medical personnel. Requiring a child to tell his/her most guarded secret to strangers was a traumatic process. The CPC has always valued a child’s right to tell his/her story in a safe, comfortable setting that respects their voice and works within their developmental limits. At the CPC, the interviews are digitally recorded so it may be shared with interested partners and spare the child from retelling and reliving the trauma. The CPC recognizes that these events are extremely traumatic for the entire family. Support services are also provided to help connect families and caregivers to community services and to help assist them in finding appropriate coping mechanisms.