URBANA – The University of Illinois Police Department is reminding community members of the resources available in Champaign-Urbana during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Child abuse persists in communities across the nation. In 2015, Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country served more than 311,000 child victims of abuse, according to the National Children’s Alliance. In Illinois alone, advocacy centers reported 11,112 victims.
Recognizing and reporting child abuse is the first step to preventing further instances. Anyone who notices signs of abuse including unexplained bruises, welts or burns; behavioral extremes; inappropriate or excessive fear; or other indicators; should call 911 or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services at 1-800-25-ABUSE.
“Child abuse too often is overlooked or ignored because others think it’s not their problem or none of their business,” said U. of I. Police Lt. Tom Geis. “But we’re the only ones who are able to give a voice to these child victims and put an end to the cycle of abuse. It’s on all of us to be watchful for signs of abuse or neglect and to report it when we see it.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers tips to get involved in child abuse prevention:
- Meet and greet your neighbors
- Go to a parents’ meeting at your child’s school
- Set up a playgroup in your community at people’s homes or a local park
- Organize a community babysitting co-op
- Volunteer at your child’s school
- Organize a community event
More prevention tips are available at the Health and Human Services website.
Additionally, the University of Illinois Police Department at 1110 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana, serves as a Safe Haven location for infants. The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act requires that every police department accept relinquished newborns. Under the law, police may not launch any kind of investigation unless there is evidence that the child is older than 30 days or if there is evidence of abuse or neglect.
If a child were to be relinquished at the University of Illinois Police Department, staff will attempt to offer the parent information about adoption and medical assistance, but the parent does not have to accept anything offered. Department staff would then make arrangements to have the infant transported to the hospital and eventually transferred to the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
“There are many resources available in our state and community designed to prevent child abuse and also to assist both children and parents through these troubling incidents,” Geis said. “UIPD has some wonderful partners who are dedicated to this kind of service.”
Geis serves as the University of Illinois Police Department’s representative to the Champaign County Children’s Advocacy Center, a community-based, child-focused resource. The CAC involves law enforcement officials, child protective services, prosecutors, victim advocates and mental health and medical professionals to discuss and make decisions about investigation, treatment and prosecution of child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse cases.
To learn more about National Child Abuse Prevention Month, visit the Health and Human Services website.