Child Abuse on the Rise in Illinois
PEORIA, Ill. — Child deaths caused by Abuse and Neglect hit a 30 year high last year, according to the Illinois Department of Children and family services.
But there’s a local organization stepping up to help those children.
The Pediatric Resource Center in Peoria sees an increase in Child Abuse cases every year, both Physical and Sexual Abuse. Already in 2014, they have 10 percent more cases than last year.
“It’s hard for our case coordinators to keep up, it’s hard for the medical staff to keep up. We’re seeing difficulty with DCFS and law enforcement, for them to keep up as well,” said Dr. Channing Petrak, the Medical Director for the Pediatric Resource Center.
When a Ahild Abuse case is reported and a referral is made to the Pediatric Resource Center, the child is given a complete physical, a head to toe exam and any necessary tests. Then that child’s full medical history is reviewed.
“We need to make sure that the child doesn’t have injuries that are unnoticed and that they have testing done for infections that might be unnoticed as well, for their long-term health,” Dr. Petrak said. “It’s also important for the child to know that they’re healthy and they’re okay. That’s very important for the child.”
Officials say the high numbers don’t necessarily mean there are more cases of abuse, it could also mean more people are recognizing the signs of an abused child.
“As the numbers are increasing, we are hopeful that the number of cases that are unreported is decreasing,” said the President of the Pediatric Resource Center Community Advisory Board, Kathy Miller.
The center is funded entirely through grants and private donors. And with the increase in cases means the center needs additional staff to handle it.
“Child abuse is hard to talk about, it’s hard to even think about,” Miller said. “But I believe every child deserves a life that is safe from Physical and Sexual Abuse.”
The Pediatric Resource Center’s “Harvesting Hope” fall fundraiser is Saturday, Oct. 25 at the the Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center in Peoria. The event includes live music and a live and silent auction.