Child Abuse and Neglect: How You Can Help

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SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb (KNEP) * IMPORTANT: "In Nebraska you are a mandatory reporter of child abuse. If you suspect abuse or know a child is being abused, please call the Nebraska Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-652-1999. In emergent situations, call your local law enforcement or 911." - Child Advocacy Center*

Some tips on what to look for in child abuse and neglect from the Child Abuse and Neglect 101 class offered by CAPstone Child Advocacy Center (source: KNEP)

Capstone Child Advocacy Center, is a facility committed to reducing trauma, promoting healing and teaching us what to look for in child abuse and negligence.

The agency handles forensic screening of children within the eleven counties in the panhandle and speak wherever they are needed.
Tuesday they visited the Western Nebraska Community College, reporting higher numbers of abuse and neglect in children between the ages of 3 and 18.

"We just had our largest year ever in 2019. We did 538 interviews and that's the first time we have ever gone over 500." Explains Monica Shambagh, the Executive Director at the Capstone Center.

Shambagh spent her time as a Nebraska State Trooper for twenty-eight and a half years and says since the start of her career working with child abuse and neglect in 1996, 'the cases have not gone down and the situation hasn't gotten better.'

One of the shocking results taught in the class is how many children die each day from abuse, the answer is four.

Shambagh says to see those cases go down we have to know the signs and know when to report abuse and neglect.
"The whole purpose of Capstone is to interview and provide the children with healing. We are the one's who do the forensic screening on these kids. There is always a ninety-seven percent chance that a court system would deem Child Neglect. Knowing the difference between abuse and neglect is what we start the class off with."

The three-hour class went over the different signs to look for in both abuse and neglect. Some cases include when a child's character and personality change, being late or staying late at school, wearing long-sleeved shirts, wearing worn-out and ragged, non-fitting clothing and being malnourished, and in some cases if extremely overweight and not getting the proper medications (life or death).

There are guidelines and specifics to the characteristics mentioned above. A link is provided to view these guidelines at the end of the article.

Capstone employees say the best advice that can be given in order to report abuse or negligence…
"Listen to your kids. so, if they tell you something, believe them'"

Another member of law enforcement who has dealt with the handling of child abuse and negligence spoke to us on the matter.

"Something nobody ever wants to believe is that another family member is abusing the child. Whether it be neglect or on the extreme end.
In law enforcement, one of the hardest things we have to do on our jobs is listen to their story. But, that’s where it starts. That’s where the initial healing starts for a child.”
The officer has asked to stay anonymous but gives this advice to anyone who has been or is being abused or neglected...

"We are all human and deserve to be treated with respect. No one wants to get their parent(s) into trouble and a lot of you may be told to not speak up and not to tell but you need to talk. It is the first step in your own healing. There are resources that can help you."

One example they gave of fear to report; "After a child has told one parent about on-going abuse or neglect in the home, the parent may have fear of losing that financial partner and the stability and roof over your head." The officer continues by saying, "You need to listen to your kids. It is rare that they tell a lie about something so specific. They can lie about not eating a cookie even though they have crumbs on their face, but when they can give you details, sights and scents you need to listen. Take proper action and report it."

If you suspect abuse or neglect please call the Nebraska Child Abuse Hotline at 1-(800)-652-1999.

Reporting can help lower the cases but talking to your children and allowing them to be heard on topics may help them report it on their own.

Capstone Child Advocacy Center-

Department of Human Health and Services (Reporting and Types of Abuse)

How Do I Report-

A few police departments around the panhandle, otherwise please call 911 or the hotline provided;

Scottsbluff Police Department-

Gering Police Department-
(308) 436-5088

Lyman Police Department-
(308) 436-6666

Mitchell Police Department-
(308) 436-6666

Minatare Police Department-
(308) 783-1414

Bayard Police Department-
(308) 586-1444

Kimball Police Department-
(308) 235-3608

Sidney Police Department-
(308) 254-5515