Local News and Stories

Catholic Community Service’s Southeast for SAFE Kids: An educational campaign

It is our great honor at Catholic Community Service to fulfill the corporal works of mercy Catholic Church in Southeast Alaska. And I’d like to enlist your help in fulfilling that mission. We are giving you the first look at a region-wide campaign to educate the public to support the safety and wellbeing of children experiencing abuse during this time. We hope you will join us and LOOK, LISTEN and REPORT suspected child abuse.

As always, thank you so much for your support of Catholic Community Service’s mission to support individuals and families in Southeast Alaska with dignity, care and compassion!

– Erin Walker-Tolles,
Executive Director of Catholic Community Service

Catholic Community Service’s
Southeast for SAFE Kids:
An Educational Campaign

Be sure to LOOK for our campaign posters and LISTEN for our PSA Radio ads in July

Catholic Community Service’s SAFE Child Advocacy Center (SAFE CAC) in Juneau, works tirelessly to provide a space where kids and families from across Southeast Alaska can come to receive a comprehensive response to child abuse. Our family advocates and trained forensic interviewers recognize how important our work is, as we provide vital support and a safe place for kids to talk. However, there is still so much more work to do.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Alaskan children are the victims of sexual assault at a rate 6 times the national average. And Covid-19 has created new challenges. Domestic violence is on the rise in these troubled times, and we know with that comes an increase in child abuse. Yet reports of harm are at an all-time low.

This is because children aren’t in school and aren’t interacting with those “safe” adults who are ones that are most likely to notice when a child is in harm’s way and make a report. That report is what leads to an evaluation by the SAFE Child Advocacy Center and the start of connection to help, healing, and justice.
It is vital that we step up to take on this incredible threat to the safety of all kids in Southeast– and we are reaching out to ask for your help. Be a part of the solution by learning the signs of maltreatment so you can take action help keep kids safe.

LOOK

Many children are especially isolated right now, and this can make it less likely that signs of abuse will be noticed. So when you interact with a child, take the time to LOOK closely.

Even by Zoom, signs may be noticeable. So when you have any contact with a child, be aware of how they look and act.

Signs may include

  • Clothing that doesn’t match the weather, often meant to cover markings (i.e. sweater in hot weather)
    Injuries that can’t be explained, or the explanation doesn’t match the markings
  • Fear of going home or anxious being at home
  • Change in behavior without an apparent reason
  • Avoidance of a certain person for no apparent reason; uneasy, agitated or unusually quiet in their presence
  • Little to no interest in friends or social activities Constant fear or worry about doing the wrong thing
  • Sexual knowledge or activity that should typically be beyond the years of they child
  • Depression and/or low self-esteem Please consider reaching out to a kid you know and brighten their day to showing you care about them. And while you do, take a moment to LOOK.

LISTEN

Most children find it difficult to disclose that they have experienced abuse. There are so many reasons: shame, fear, and self-blame are common feelings abused children may have. Some don’t tell because they are trying to protect those their family from the turmoil that comes once abuse is identified. Some feel that they are being punished, and some think that abuse is just a normal part of growing up. And as we learn more about the impact of adverse childhood experiences, we know that if trauma is not addressed, it can affect a child for the rest of their life.

So when you speak with a child, take the time to LISTEN to not just what they are saying, but to things they may not be saying. If they are speaking fearfully, with anxiety, without any affect, in an entirely new manner, or if they are avoiding subjects these can be signs of abuse. If their words don’t match their actions, or if there seems to be no explanation for their manner or changes in aspect, consider why.

And if they do disclose abuse – believe them.

REPORT

Anyone can and should call to make a report of harm if there is a concern. You don’t have to see the abuse or know for sure that it’s happening before you report.

When something looks suspicious or you have heard that something is amiss, it is vital that you take the right steps by making a report to your local law enforcement and the Office of Children’s Services at 1(800)478-4444, or email at reportchildabuse@alaska.gov . (Reporters can ask to remain anonymous.)

The report allows OCS or local law enforcement to investigate, and if substantiated they may be referred to Catholic Community Service’s SAFE Child Advocacy Center for evaluation, advocacy, support and help to heal.

If you’d like to do more we welcome your help!

Help us put up posters and share materials with businesses across Southeast. Please call Alyssa at the SAFE CAC (989) 671-7588