April is child abuse prevention month. On Tuesday 42 doves were released in Tulsa, each one represented a child killed by abuse. Forty-two children died in one year from child abuse here in Oklahoma, it's a statistic local child advocates say they don't want to see repeated. Although the latest numbers are from 2005, police say the problem just isn't going away. The News On 6â€™s Heather Lewin reports local leaders hope the public will take a stand.
The cases are too horrible to believe, a father pouring boiling water over his 2-year-old sons head, a mother allowing her 4-year-old to be beaten and starved, another mother accused of forcing her daughters to eat feces and sleep in cages. These are just a few examples of abuse right here in Green Country, and as difficult as they are to face Tulsa leaders want everyone to realize what's happening.
"If we take an attitude of I don't care, it's somebody else's business, it's law enforcement, it's DHS let them handle it, we'll never win this fight against child abuse," said District Attorney Tim Harris.
The goal is prevention, but when these cases do happen the victims are brought to one place where they no longer have to feel afraid and alone. In the past, a victim of abuse might be interviewed three or four times, now that's streamlined into one visit to the child justice center.
"All of these agencies work together to eliminate any further trauma to children who've been victims of abuse," said Tulsa police Sergeant Whitney Allen.
Allen says Tulsa police investigated 1,500 cases of abuse last year.
"It's important when you hear the number 1,500 to not just get caught up in that number, but go 1,500, each one is a child," Allen said.
She says this month is a good time to remind frustrated parents to take a deep breath.
"You have to be able to maintain your cool, to maintain being the adult in that situation,â€ said Allen. â€œWe've all gotten to that point where you just have to take the time and walk away."
Law enforcement officials urge people who suspect child abuse to call the 24 hour hotline at 584-1222.
There are 12 alternatives to lashing out at your children. The next time you feel like lashing out STOP! And try any of these simple alternatives
- Take a deep breath, and another, then remember you are the adult.
- Close your eyes and imagine youâ€™re hearing what your child is about to hear.
- Press your lips together and count to 10, or even 20.
- Put your child in a time out chair.
- Put yourself in a time out chair. Think about why you are angry, is it your child, or is your child simply a convenient target for your anger?
- Phone a friend.
- If someone can watch the children, go outside and take a walk.
- Take a hot bath or splash cold water on your face.
- Hug a pillow.
- Turn on some music, maybe even sing along.
- Pick up a pencil and write down as many helpful words as you can think of, and save the list.
- Call for prevention information: 1-800-CHILDREN.