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Local News

GA Centers Combat Child-Abuse Misconceptions with Impactful Initiatives

Credit: iStock

Shanteya Hudson

Georgia saw more than 62,000 reports of child abuse in 2020, representing more than 120,000 children.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and organizations are building greater awareness of such incidents statewide.

Gail Garland, director of advocacy for the Safe Path Child Advocacy Center in Marietta, said they want to educate people on how to keep kids safe, and what it means to serve as a support for victims.

“No matter where you live across the state of Georgia, it is something that you need to be more aware of,” Garland contended. “And know how to react and kind-of what your role is in protecting children in your community.”

An estimated 65% of child abuse reports are made by professionals involved with children and families. Garland stressed it underlines the urgency to address misunderstandings about reporting child abuse in local communities. She noted no one needs exhaustive details in order to report abuse, and encourages anyone to speak up, no matter how small their initial concern may appear.

Garland pointed to a misconception of abuse as always being visible. But with thousands of child maltreatment cases in Cobb County involving sexual assault or neglect, she said the assumption could prevent a child in a dangerous situation from getting help.

“There’s not anything from the outside that you can really tell,” Garland pointed out. “It’s not until you give a child an opportunity to talk about what’s going on in their life that you realize that there are kids in our community, and around the state, who are really hurting.”

For every abuse case, figures from the nonprofit Ark of Hope show two more go unreported.

Garland said one way the Safe Path organization addresses the issue is by offering training to communities about child-friendly approaches to allegations of child abuse.

This story was written by Shanteya Hudson, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.