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Susie’s Place partners with schools and others on COVID-19 inspired child abuse prevention

Susie’s Place partners with schools and others on COVID-19 inspired child abuse prevention

By Lindsay Doty

During the COVID-19 quarantine, many families are taking the extra time to go for a hike, play Monopoly, or bake muffins with the kids. They’re having fun. But for children who are at-risk for abuse and neglect, the stress of the quarantine can make an abusive situation worse and there are no teachers or neighbors around to notice.

To help, Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Centers has created a new program for school districts to include reporting procedures and body safety rules within their e-learning or distance learning curriculums. The group has also been working with local food banks and social services to include more outreach to adults about the signs of child sexual assault and abuse.

“During this unprecedented stay home order under the COVID-19 pandemic, children are staying in homes that have the potential to be unsafe. Without seeing friends, neighbors, teachers or other safe adults, this abuse is much less likely to be observed or reported,” says Susie’s Place Executive Director Emily Perry.

Associate Director Lynn Clinton added, “Our goal is to remind or inform children that are unsafe that they can still reach out for help and how to do that in this new normal.”

The centers (with locations in Avon, Bloomington, and Terre Haute) are working with local service groups delivering food and supplies to the public to spread awareness so adults can continue to protect vulnerable children. Food deliveries this week included a flyer about the warning signs of abuse.

“As leaders in the community and communicators, we need you to step up and help us spread this message. We have seen and heard several PSAs for hand washing and social distancing, but children in unsafe homes are going to be the silent victims in the coronavirus pandemic,”
says Perry.

Susie’s Place Prevention Education Director Candace Balzano says, “Keep an eye out for red flags, tell kids that you are a safe adult and they can tell you if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable.”

You can learn more about Susie’s Place, online safety, and get free materials for caregivers at http://susiesplace.org
There’s also a free coloring page download for kids about being brave and special.

Everyone in Indiana who suspects abuse is required by law to report it to 911 in an emergency or the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-800-5556. You can remain anonymous.
Photo courtesy Susie’s Place

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