CARE House sees rise in abuse cases
JANESVILLE The YWCA CARE House has seen an increase of physical abuse cases involving children, possibly because of financial stress in homes, a YWCA of Rock County official said Tuesday.
The CARE House had 31 physical abuse to a child cases in 2010, compared to 28 in 2009. The house also is on pace to have more physical abuse cases this year than in 2010.
Unemployment and financial problems in families could be reasons for an increase in the caseload, although it is difficult to know, said Mary Ann Burkheimer, CARE House program director.
"I think it's financial. I think it's a lot of different pressures," she said.
Mercy Health System, the YWCA, local law enforcement and others gathered at the CARE House on Tuesday to raise awareness of physical and sexual child abuse.
Rock County has the second-highest rate of reported physical or sexual abuse to children in Wisconsin, behind only Milwaukee County, Burkheimer said.
The rate doesn't necessarily mean Rock County actually has more child abuse than other counties, she said. Community awareness, education and the willingness of people to report abuse could increase the rate.
"It comes down to awareness, and it comes down to not only the courage of the child to disclose but the courage of an individual to make a report," Burkheimer said.
Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said the area doesn't have more child abuse than other places.
He said police, hospital staff, the Rock County District Attorney's Office and Rock County Child Protective Services have a strong connection to the community, increasing the rate of people reporting child abuse.
"I don't know that Rock County is any different than any other place in the nation," Moore said.
Agencies in Rock County collaborate to help victims of child abuse to meet their needs, said Jackie Friar, Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center sexual assault nurse examiner program coordinator.
Investigations of abuse are easier to prosecute and are easier for victims to undergo because agencies work together examining children and gathering evidence, said Shelley Sturdevant, the victim and witness coordinator for the district attorney's office.