Child abuse prevention: Raising awareness and reporting within community
By Erika Stanish
April 5, 2016
While legislation was introduced abolishing the statute of limitations on Monday, some are pushing for more to be done about child abuse.
The Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance is urging those in the community to step up and be vigilant in the role of protecting kids.
With April being Child Abuse Prevention Month, those involved in the PFSA hope to help the community raise awareness, recognize the signs and report child abuse if they see it.
"You can't wait. If you wait, it might be too late," said Angela Liddle, CEO and president of the PFSA.
According to the PFSA, thousands of children are abused and neglected each year.
"These are kids that never ever get opportunity of growing up because they've been killed. They've been murdered in hands most often that are supposed to love them the most," Liddle said.
The push to report abuse follows after a grand jury report was released, finding hundreds of children sexually abused by priests and religious leaders within the Johnstown-Altoona Diocese.
"The sad reality is, we just can't depend on institutions and organizations and sadly professionals, sometimes, to do the right thing," Liddle said, "It's heartbreaking for the victims and their families. I don't think anyone can read that grand jury report without feeling physically ill."
Some were believed to have turned a blind eye on those cases, never reporting the abuse, the PSFA said.
Now, organizers are pushing parents and grandparents to have conversations with their kids.
"We have to explain to them that that there's appropriate touch, and inappropriate touch. they need to know if inappropriate touch even comes from a coach, teacher, priest, rabbi, pastor, it's never OK. and should not be kept secret," Liddle said.
Another way to get involved is through the Front Porch Project.
This training helps community members intervene when they believe a child isn't safe.
"We've all had encounters in grocery stores, Walmart, interactions between parents and children that leave us very unsettled at a minimum, Liddle said, "Before I learned how to respond, you just duck down the other aisle because you don't know what to do."
That's not the right thing to do, Liddle said.
The interactive training walks participants through different variations, helping to recognize signs of child abuse and the proper procedures to report it.
The Front Porch Project training will be held on April 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Somerset Trust Community Room.
You can find more information at www.pa-fsa.org
"That's very most I think we can hope for at a time like this. That folks get what treatment they can. That we see change in legislative bills, we'd like to see law changed to eliminate statute of limitations and deal with this more aggressively. Allow victims to come forward," Liddle said.
Legislation was introduced to abolish the criminal statute of limitations in future child sex abuse prosecutions in the state on Monday.
The bill would rise the civil statute of limitations age from 30 to 50, the Majority Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said.
Representative Ron Marsico plans to run his measure, House Bill 1947, through his Committee on Tuesday.
"My choice to not include a retroactive period in this legislation was not easy", Marsico said.