Authored by Susanne Mitchell, MSW, Director
Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center
This month is National Child Abuse Prevention month. You will see many agencies in our community supporting awareness for Child Physical and Sexual Abuse with the element of pinwheel gardens. Chances are that you are quickly reminded of one or more people you know that was abused either physically or sexually. If you are like most people, you are not sure how to handle this when you find out. Even if you care deeply about this person, it is not easy to know what to say or do. There is something everyone can do and it does not cost a dime. We can all make it easier for victims to come forward to speak up about abuse so that it can stop.
Here is how:
1. Make it okay for victims to talk about abuse. Be the friend they can trust. Don’t judge, don’t quiz, just listen.
2. Thank them for trusting you with something that has been hurting them.
3. Encourage them to seek help so it can stop. There are lots of caring people who can help them through the process.
4. Don’t treat them different just because they were a victim. They need to know you won’t alienate them or avoid them. They are still awesome and the abuse was not their fault. Stay engaged and supportive.
5. If you are being abused or know someone who is, Utah law expects people to report child abuse to the authorities so that the abuse will stop. Please report to your local police department or call the Child Abuse Hotline open 24 hours a day 7 days a week 1-855-323-3237.
People who care:
If the victim is 17 or younger (or 18 and still in high school) they can get the help of the Children’s Justice Center to ensure safety, protection and healing. They can even help with date rape, sexual assault, or sexual exploitation. One short visit to the center for 2 hours or less will provide lots of supportive solutions, and connections to therapists and even medical experts if needed. The soothing atmosphere is really appreciated by the children, teens and parents too. Take a peek inside to see the charming spaces set up to make youth feel safe and cared for. Teens consistently tell us that they feel like a big burden was lifted after they finally told someone. Plus, they appreciated the kindness and support from people who listen respectfully and compassionately.
For more information on the Children’s Justice Center please visit: http://slco.org/district-attorney/childrens-justice-center/