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Societal Responsibility Key To Child Abuse Prevention

Joseph Defalco/News Editor

April was National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. According to the National Children’s Alliance, 700,000 children across the country suffer abuse in various forms every year.

Early Childhood Education professor Sarah Theberge says that these children’s safety is a societal responsibility.“We all have a role to play,” she said.

Abuse in a child’s life can lead to long-term emotional problems according to the Washington State Department of Health. However, according to the health department, child abuse is underreported, and many victims never receive the help they need, instead carrying the burden of trauma throughout their adult life.

Clark College and Clark County provide a handful of services for students and residents who were or are victims of abuse.

Students who are victims of abuse or who suspect abuse can file a report with the campus Title IX coordinator, Natalie Shank, or deputy Title IX coordinators Cath Busha and Loretta Capeheart. Title IX coordinators are not bound by confidentiality. Like the Counseling and Health Center, they are required to pass reports up their chain of command in a way that involves as few people as possible. Title IX Coordinators can provide advice and assistance to victims of abuse, including in seeking legal recourse.

The Clark County Children’s Justice Center is a local resource that offers a variety of support services and information, as well as assistance in prosecuting suspected perpetrators. The center works with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Vancouver Police Department to investigate suspected child abuse. It also has a prosecution unit whose members are assigned by the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and specialize in child abuse law.

Clark’s Counseling and Health Center is a confidential campus resource with accredited counselors, psychologists and nurse practitioners that is available to students for free. Clark students can make 10 free appointments a year for two years to receive counseling and advice for issues, including but not limited to abuse. Students who have suffered abuse may find the Counseling and Health Center to be a useful resource in addressing lingering trauma.

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