2015-04-27 / News

Child Advocacy Center advocate for abused children

BY JEFF HOGAN
810-452-2640 •

LAPEER COUNTY — Every Lapeer County child should have every chance in life, every chance at happiness, and every chance at success. Yet tragically, hundreds of local children shoulder the burden of abuse or neglect. As a society, we must do better.

During National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, we strengthen our resolve to give every young person the security, opportunity, and bright future they deserve.

We all have a role to play in preventing child abuse and neglect and in helping young victims recover. From parents and guardians to educators and community leaders, each of us can help carve out safe places for young people to build their confidence and pursue their dreams. We encourage area residents to be aware of warning signs of child abuse and neglect, including sudden changes in behavior or school performance, untreated physical or medical issues, lack of adult supervision, and constant alertness, as though preparing for something bad to happen.

Lapeer County is fortunate, however, to have help available.

The Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County, located at 15 E. Genesee St. in Lapeer, facilitates and coordinates the complex investigation, prosecution and treatment of child sexual and/or severe physical abuse situations. This is accomplished with the active involvement of the agencies who are mandated to intervene in and investigate child abuse — law enforcement officers, child protective service workers, prosecuting attorneys, and victim rights advocates. The multi-disciplinary team approach minimizes the stress associated with the investigation in a child-sensitive, supportive, and safe environment. Using this coordinated approach shows an increased number of prosecuted child abuse perpetrators, according to national statistics.

The CAC of Lapeer County serves as an advocate for both the child and the family throughout the entire process.

Research shows that when parents possess six protective factors, the risk for neglect and abuse diminish and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted. The six protective factors are:

Nurturing and attachment

Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development

Parental resilience

Social connections

Concrete supports for parents

Social and emotional developmental well-being

“April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children,” said Megan Warpup, LLPC, executive director. “Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors, in every interaction with children and families, is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development.”

The CAC offers an extensive prevention and education program.

Elementary School

The CAC’s “Personal Safety and Awareness Program” is presented to all second and fourth graders in Lapeer County. This sensitive, comprehensive program teachers children in a positive, non-threatening way the information they need to protect themselves from sexual assault.

The program is taught in three one-hour sessions by a combination of teachers, police officers and Child Advocacy Center volunteers and staff. The program helps children identify people they could talk to if they had a problem, learn how to avoid dangerous situations, and know what to do to keep themselves safe. The program stresses the importance of talking to a trusted adult whenever a child feels confused about, or does not like a touch from someone.

Middle School

The CAC provides, develops and implements a wide range of age appropriate prevention programs and presentations to all middle school students. Topics range from bullying, sexting, internet crimes, alcohol, drugs and dating violence.

High School

The CAC provides, develops and implements a wide range of age appropriate prevention programs and presentations to all high school students. Topics range from bullying, sexting, internet crimes, alcohol, drugs and dating violence.

To report child abuse, call 911 or 855- 444-3911. The CAC of Lapeer County can be reached at 664-9990.

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