Jackson County agency sees record-setting child abuse cases - KCTV5

Jackson County agency sees record-setting child abuse cases

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An area agency that helps victims of child abuse saw a record-setting number of cases in February.

Jackson County Court-Appointed Special Advocates assigned volunteers to 49 abused or neglected children who came under court protection in February.

This was the second-largest number in the agency's 30-year history. The highest number came last June when 64 children were served.

Executive Director Martha Gershun said the spikes are attributed to the changing in weather.

When it's extremely cold and snowy as it has been recently, children and adults are forced inside. The abuse is hidden behind closed doors.

"When the weather warms, as it did for a few days in February, children reappear outdoors where signs of abuse are recognized and reported," Gershun said.

She said the abuse can come as parents face the stress of high utility bills and extended indoor confinement. School cancellations mean some children don't get the only real meals of their day, and parents will leave the kids home alone or get upset over having to make alternative arrangements.

"A tremendous amount of child abuse and neglect are related to winter and poverty conditions when children are locked up in their homes and can't get outside with very little competent adult supervision," Gershun said.

As the snow melts and warmer temperatures arrive in the coming days, Gershun asked people to be on the lookout for signs of abuse and to report any suspicions.

The physical abuse indicators are unexplained welts, bruises and scars; injuries in various stages of healing; unexplained burns and injuries; fractures; and bite marks.

She said if you are fearful about a child then call to check on them or knock on the door.

"Sometimes food or paying an electric bill can save a life," she said.

The Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is 1-800-392-3728. The Kansas Protection Report Center is 1-800-922-5330.

CASA helps provide judges the information they need to ensure abused and neglected children get the best possible medical, educational and therapeutic services. The agency served 1,000 children in 2013.

With 22 programs in Missouri, Jackson County serves a third of all the state's children.

Volunteers only need a background check, training and a heart for helping children. Hours are flexible and about 10 hours are needed a month.

The Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is 1-800-392-3728. The Kansas Protection Report Center is 1-800-922-5330.

To learn more about Jackson County CASA and the work that they do, click here.

You can call the Jackson County CASA at 816-984-8204 or call CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte counties at 913-715-4040.

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