April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. To bring about awareness of this very important issue, you will see an abundance of blue across the state of Missouri, especially Chillicothe.

The blue pinwheel, as seen in front of the Livingston County Courthouse, is the national symbol for child abuse prevention. These pinwheels represent hope, health and happiness, the very essence of childhood.

Chillicothe Chief of Police Jon Maples said, “The NCMCAC, MO STAT, Livingston County Prosecutor Adam Warren, Livingston County Victim Advocate Karen Hinton and Chillicothe Police Department work closely on child abuse and child sexual assault cases. We take these cases very serious; a child should never be a victim of these crimes. We will always be the advocate on these cases.”

Maples noted since the beginning of the year CPD Detective Whitney Murdock has been busy working child abuse and sexual assault cases, a a much higher rate than usual.

“We have had an influx of these type of cases. Our staff, especially Det. Murdock, does an amazing job investigating these type of cases. I believe we have an influx in these cases because our partnership with other organizations and because our officers are more approachable and dedicated solving these crimes.”

In a Facebook post, representatives of NCMCAC acknowledged that dealing with these issues are hard, but must be done.

“It’s a difficult topic and even more difficult to investigate and prosecute. Help us break the silence that surrounds abuse by learning the facts and minimizing opportunity for abuse to occur in the first place,” the post dated April 10 read.

Unfortunately, child abuse and sexual assault is nothing new, however, in today’s society more and more cases are being reported, and Chillicothe is no different. It is a new era in the CPD, Maples said, “I think citizens know that we take these cases seriously so they feel more comfortable coming to us with the cases.”

Presiding Livingston County Commissioner Ed Douglas recently wrote a column for the Constitution-Tribune, in it he quoted statistics involving child abuse in Livingston County.

“In 2018, 41 children in Livingston County received services from the Children's Advocacy Center, but held jurisdiction in 43 cases. Of those cases 25 children were sexually abused; 17 were physically abused; five were neglected; four were drug endangered and three were witness to abuse.”

Being aware of things going on around us and reporting suspicious behaviors, especially where children are involved is key.

“Prevention is a huge part of this, “Maples said. “If there is anything we can do to be preventative it can help all of us, but especially the children.”

Trainings are offered by NCMCAC to help community members know what to look for and how to react.

“In May, the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center will be putting on Stewards of Children (Darkness to Light) training with these are extremely hard cases to investigate. Stewards of Children uses real people and real stories to show adults how to protect children, built off of a 5 Step foundation,” Maples said in a press release. “It’s not as hard as you think and everyone can do something. If you would like this training brought to your group or community, let us or the NCMCAC know.”

The North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center can be reached at 660-359-2874; and the Chillicothe Police Department can be reached at 660-646-2121