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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Speaker outlines local child abuse statistics

  • A sizeable crowd gathered Friday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery to participate in the Child Abuse Prevention Walk, sponsored by the Children's Division of Newton/McDonald County.
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  • A sizeable crowd gathered Friday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Neosho National Fish Hatchery to participate in the Child Abuse Prevention Walk, sponsored by the Children's Division of Newton/McDonald County.
    Prior to the walk, Jim Otey, guest speaker, gave statistics about child abuse and encouraged participants to help eliminate the problem of child abuse.
    "I want to shed light on the scope of the child abuse problem – both statewide and in Newton and McDonald counties," Otey said. "Also, I would like to tell you a little bit about child services and then finally, some ways that you can get involved to help if not completely eliminate the problem of child abuse, to at least minimize it."
    He noted the problem of child abuse is not new, however, awareness of the problem and efforts to curb it are more in the spotlight now than ever before.
    "How widespread is child abuse?" he asked. "Well, in Missouri just last year in 2012, (there were) 63,000 hotline calls placed by agencies, school administrators, family members, neighbors, all who were being proactive with their concerns of a possibility of abuse taken place. Thankfully, not all of those calls resulted in a positive finding, not even 10 percent of them. Instead, 8 percent, but when you consider 8 percent that is 4,600 actual confirmed cases of child abuse. Locally, I am talking about in Newton and McDonald counties, the 40th Circuit Court, the numbers are just as astounding, with 903 hotline calls being made and 53 actual cases or 6 percent of the calls turning out to be confirmed as child abuse or neglect cases by family services."
    He noted that is more than 4,700 total cases of child abuse or neglect in 2012 alone.
    "That is 4,700 too many — I am sure that you all would agree," Otey said. "In 2012, statewide, more than 16,000 kids were put in out of home care because they were in danger if they stayed in the existing family structure. The average age of that child, 9 ½ years and the length of stay, just more than two years. Locally, 495 kids started the year out of the home, an additional 224 more were affected during that, meaning that more than 600 of our Newton and McDonald County kids were without their moms and dads because it wasn't safe for them to be home with their parents."
    Otey added there were 234 other hotline calls with no allegations of abuse or neglect, but the caller simply believed that the family was at risk of abusing or neglecting a child or that there were specific needs within the home that needed to be addressed.
    "And that leads me to the part of the speech about family services," he said. "They not only do what is necessary to put a child in a safe place after abuse has been discovered, but tirelessly make efforts to prevent abuse or neglect before it occurs."
    Page 2 of 2 - Otey addressed being involved.
    "Certainly you being here today is the first indication that you are interested in doing what you can to eradicate the problem, but of course there are more that you can do to get involved," he said. "For instance, have you ever considered becoming a foster parent? In the 40th Circuit Court area, there are 37 licensed foster homes and facilities. There is a need for more. The children's division also needs community partners to help meet the physical needs of impact families that lack the resources to provide a safe haven, I encourage you to get involved with that. You can help mentor children who are in need of just a positive adult relationship in their lives. You can sponsor events for children and out-of-home placement."
    "Finally, just simply help recruit a family that you think might be a candidate to provide foster care," he said. "You have already taken the first steps to get involved by attending today, take another and then take another one and before long, you will be walking in the door of children's services asking to assist them."
    For more information, please contact Shawna Geary at 455-5142.

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