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Alarming Statistics for Child Sexual Abuse In Cherokee, Crawford - KOAM TV 7

Alarming Statistics for Child Sexual Abuse In Cherokee, Crawford Counties

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     Disturbing statistics out of Southeast Kansas involving sexual child abuse.
     And officials say the numbers have been consistent for several years.
Sergeant Rebekah Lynch, Pittsburg Police Department: "In 2017 we had 58 reported cases of sexual assault, 38 out of those were juvenile victims."
That's statistics just for the city of Pittsburg.
But, numbers we're bringing you, are combined from Cherokee and Crawford county.
100% of children that were sexually abused *knew* their abuser.
Lynch: "These are people that they love and they trust, even though they're harming them, a lot of these victims, they still love these people."
The trend, on-going since at least 2013.
But, officials are trying to combat this trend.
Whitney Lovell, Children's Advocacy Center: "We have agreements with Cherokee and Crawford county, so anytime that there's a sexual abuse case, they bring the child here, and we do what we call a forensic interview."
Law enforcement officials are trying to make that easier as well.
Lynch: "If we are interviewing a kid there, we're not in our uniforms, we're in soft clothing, if a law enforcement officer is the one conducting the interview of that child."
Whitney Lovell is a child and family advocate, so she knows some of the warning signs of potential sexual abuse.
Lovell: "Sometimes a child might be over-trusting with an adult and they want to spend a lot of time together, or you can watch if a child all of a sudden doesn't want to go somewhere, doesn't want to be around that person."
Lovell says that list isn't all inclusive, and, it's not always an indicator to sexual abuse, but there are other ways to find out...
Lovell: "Just kinda talking to your kid is something that you just asking them open questions, letting them know that you're there, that you believe them if anything happened and that you would be there no matter what."
As for Sergeant Lynch, she says the services offered by the Children's Advocacy Center go beyond just helping kids.
Lynch: "You can't do this job effectively and not be impacted by it...we have our Children's Advocacy Center is really good about offering some training on secondary trauma, you know, as law enforcement officers we go out and we see the trauma that other people endure all the time." 

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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