Van Wert County Crime Victims Services Director Christina Eversole said recently that there are not a lot of convicted child abuse cases in Van Wert County. That doesn’t necessarily mean that more aren’t happening, Eversole said.
In many cases, individuals are afraid to report for fear of causing hard feelings in families or with friends and neighbors. Now, in the midst of Child Abuse Awareness Month (April), Eversole suggested several things that can and should be done when there is suspected child abuse.
“Documentation of stuff, whether written or pictures, is so important,” said Eversole. “You can call Children’s Services anonymously. Be in contact with law enforcement; you can always ask for a safety check of a situation where you might suspect child abuse.”
“If law enforcement is informed of potential child abuse in a situation, they can always run by or keep a lookout over a suspected situation,” continued Eversole. “Documentation is the most effective way to keep track unless you are willing to expose yourself to the situation.”
Eversole said one of the things to keep in mind is a home where dishes are piled up and even covered with mold and mildew, garbage is present throughout the house and other manifestations of clutter surround the home just waiting for an accident to happen with the children.
“If it is possible, take pictures of the prevailing clutter and the dishes piled up. Follow through with the system, try to keep family members involved,” noted Eversole.
Eversole said that even if officials are called into the situation and enforce a clean- up, unless there is counseling and follow-up involved, the cycle is more than likely to start over again.
“Most people try to leave the kids out of it,” said Eversole. “If there are cell phones involved, see if questionable conversations can be recorded. Children’s protective services can do an interview with the parents.”
Eversole said that if it’s possible, officials try to keep the kids connected with home, parents, relatives or people they are familiar with during investigation. “The kids have already been put through so much,” said Eversole. “They shouldn’t uproot them and take them away from their toys. So many are already so scared that they sleep with one eye open.”
“So many of the abused children are afraid to say anything because they are afraid that they won’t be believed or what they say will come back to make things worse for them. Unfortunately, there’s often a good reason for their fears,” added Eversole.