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Locals spotlight child abuse epidemic

Nationwide children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Locally, Bossier and Caddo Parishes have the highest rates of abuse in our region.
Nationwide children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Locally, Bossier and Caddo Parishes have the highest rates of abuse in our region.

April is child abuse awareness and prevention month. Monday local groups are trying to bring awareness and of course their biggest goal is ending the abuse.

Joel Hooper says, “Child abuse and neglect exists in every community including this one."

Hooper is a child welfare specialist for Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. He says communication is key to ending abuse.

"To pay attention to the kids that they're around every day, because kids won't come out and tell you hey I'm being abused or neglected sometimes.

At Monday’s “Light of Hope program” hundreds of shoes represent just some of the abused children in our area.

Vickie Ricord says, “All the children that have to walk up these steps who enter foster care and end up having to be in a courtroom through no fault of their own every single year."

Just last year 600 children in north Louisiana entered the foster care system.

Ricord says. "This just spotlights how many people are out there being abused and neglected and we need to bring awareness to the public."

Hooper says they depend on the public's help to put abusers behind bars.

"Certainly there are some injuries that lead you to believe that there may be abuse or neglect situations going on."

Experts say to explain abuse to children let them know there are three kinds of touches. A good touch is ok, that's a hug from your parents or a high five from a teacher.

The touches that are not ok, an ouch touch when someone hurts you or an uh-oh touch when someone touches you and it just doesn't feel right.

Also tell children the places covered by their swimsuit are private. No one should touch them there.

Make sure children know to tell an adult they trust if someone touches them inappropriately.

Ricord says Court Appointed Special Advocates are in dire need of volunteers.  CASAs are trained volunteers appointed by judges to advocate for the needs of children removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Contact Vickie Ricord at 318-425-4413 or Vickie.Ricord@vyjla.org if you're interested in volunteering. 



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