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South Dakota Recognizes Child-Abuse Prevention Month

A South Dakota task force estimated that 73 percent of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year, and 45 percent do not tell anyone for at least five years. (embraceadoption.org)
A South Dakota task force estimated that 73 percent of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year, and 45 percent do not tell anyone for at least five years. (embraceadoption.org)
April 15, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Communities across South Dakota are encouraged to raise awareness about child abuse during April as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month, by holding events that provide education and support.

The most recent data shows that South Dakota had 16,000 referrals for child abuse and neglect in 2016, a 16 percent increase over 2015. Abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional, or include a child witnessing severe violence between parents. Cassie Nagle, program assistant with South Dakota's Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment, said all children deserve happy, healthy childhoods but too many still are at risk.

"We know that child abuse and neglect happens,” Nagle said. “We know that it happens much more than we maybe see it in the news or than it's prosecuted."

The maltreatment center was created in 2017 based on recommendations from Jolene's Law Task Force, a group that worked with lawmakers to promote legislation aimed at combating child sexual abuse in South Dakota. The group developed goals and objectives to increase awareness, create evidence-based programming and improve response and prevention of abuse.

The task force found three-quarters of child victims do not tell anyone about abuse for at least a year, and nearly half do not tell anyone for at least five years. Nagel noted abuse in childhood permeates society at every level, and is not restricted by socio-economic status, race, religion or any other cultural factors. She said that's why it's important for communities to talk about it.

"A big part of not only addressing the problem for prevention purposes, but also in supporting victims of child abuse and neglect is talking about it,” she said. “It's saying, ‘We recognize that this exists and we really stand with victims and support them.’”

South Dakota Kids Count reports one-fifth of South Dakota children suffer two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences, called ACEs, which are defined as traumatic events while growing up that can have serious health effects throughout a child's lifetime.

More information on the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment, including a schedule of events, is available at SDCPMC.com.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD