SUBMITTED BY HEART TO HEART CHILD ADVOCACY
Child abuse and neglect has been a problem on the Cherokee Reservation for years, and it is a problem that continues to grow. While reported cases of child abuse have grown in number and can often be seen on local news broadcasts, cases of child neglect do not often receive as much attention.
Child neglect, however, is statistically as big a problem as child abuse, it is just harder to recognize and less often reported. Neglect has been called the “silent killer” of children and the numbers support the name.
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) reported in 2009 that of 2,569547 child protective service reports, 1,591,084 had enough foundation for investigation. Of these, 442,005 were substantiated and of those substantiated cases, 78.3% were founded for neglect. That is 1,245,818 children that suffered from neglect: more than eighty-three times the number of members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In that same year, 1,770 children reportedly died from child abuse and neglect, with over half of that number being attributed to neglect.
Each of those children had a story. Each could have been someone known by each person reading these words. It could be your neighbor, your cousin, your child’s schoolmate. It could even be your own child or grandchild. Each of the children that died during that period had no voice, had no champion to stand up for their rights, had no place where they were safe.
In accordance with NC General Statute 7B-301, any person or institution who has cause to suspect that any child is abuse or neglected, or has died as the result of maltreatment MUST report the case of that child to the proper authorities. In reporting, you are legally protected from criminal or civil prosecution for making a good faith report, even if nothing comes of it. All people working with children in ANY capacity are mandated by law to make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect.
Please report suspicions of child abuse to the Heart to Heart Child Advocacy Center 497-7477 or the Child Victim Unit of the Cherokee Police Department 497-7401. Heart to Heart Child Advocacy Center is located at 75 John Crowe Hill in Cherokee. The mailing address is P.O. Box 532, Cherokee, NC 28719.