Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt spoke to students, parents and staff today, at Christ the King school, Topeka, about issues of child abuse in the state.
Children planted pinwheels in a flower bed at the school to commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month, which the Governor made official with a proclamation signed at the gathering.
“Children are precious, and it’s up to all of us to make sure they are safe, happy and protected,” said Governor Brownback. “Child abuse is preventable, and there is no excuse that justifies turning away from the problem.”
The school, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and the Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL) teamed up to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and to encourage everyone to do their part to prevent abuse of Kansas children.
In Kansas, DCF received 65,631 reports of child abuse and/or neglect in FY 2015, an increase of about 480 over the previous fiscal year. The agency encourages Kansans to be alert for signs of child abuse and to call the Kansas Protection Report Center (1-800-922-5330) if they believe abuse is occurring.
“No child should have to live in fear,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said. “Each of us has the responsibility of reporting suspected abuse or neglect.”
St. Francis Independent Living Program Manager Kellie Henderson also addressed the audience about her personal experiences of abuse. Henderson has been featured in various national forums to call attention to the impact of abuse and how individuals can overcome their experience.
“Neighbors, teachers, coaches, friends, we all need to be on the lookout for signs that point to abuse,” Henderson said. “Don’t be afraid of getting involved. Raising awareness of what to look for is part of the battle, but people need to speak up when they suspect abuse is occurring.”
The Pinwheels for Prevention campaign is an effort to change the way our nation thinks about prevention and how we can deliver on our commitment to Kansas children. The pinwheel serves as an uplifting reminder of childhood and the bright futures all children deserve.
“We are continually looking for ways to protect children from abuse,” Attorney General Schmidt told the gathering. “We can connect families to needed resources to prevent a crisis situation. And we are also working to educate families on the very serious consequences of committing abuse.”
Of the reports received by DCF in FY 2015, 56 percent were assigned for further investigation. In FY2015, 3,799 Kansas children were removed from their homes because of abuse and/or neglect, down from 3,805 the year before. Currently, there are 6,636 children in foster care (as of February 2016). Nearly 57 percent of them will likely be reunified with their families.
You can report child abuse/neglect 24/7 by calling the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330.