Why is a Children's Advocacy Center needed in Lonoke & Southern Prairie Counties?

It is up to our community to be aware and educated concerning the facts of child abuse. There are several ways that you can help.

First, if you suspect or know that a child is being abused, contact your local law enforcement agency or call the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-482-5964. Your call may be the first step in stopping the abuse of the child.

Second, talk openly to your children about abuse and tell them that if someone is hurting them, they need to tell you. Often times, children will feel like it is their fault, and they will not tell anyone. Sometimes the offender will threaten physical harm to them or their family therefore the child will not disclose. Reassure your children that they can talk to you about anything - no matter what.

Third, develop a Safety Plan with your child that will identify at least two other individuals whom they can tell of their abuse. This may include a teacher, counselor, relative, or friend.

Lastly, be aware of whom your child is with and what he/she is doing. Unlike most movies, child abusers are not scary nor are they dirty strangers. In most child abuse cases, the abuser is someone whom the child knows and the parents trust. Even here in our counties, we find all kinds of child abusers. They are both male and female; they are of all races, and they come from all socioeconomic classes. Always make sure you know who is watching your children and talk to them on a regular basis to ensure that they are not being abused.

There are people available to help you such as Children and Youth Agencies, Law Enforcement, Victim Witness, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and Children’s Advocacy Centers. However, if we are going to stop child abuse from happening, we are going to need the help of this entire community. To find out more about the National Children's Advocacy Center, visit www.nca-online.org