Phillips speaks on child abuse

Published 2:57 pm Monday, April 2, 2018

April ushers in Child Abuse Prevention Month. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, since 1983 the month of April has been designated as the month that focuses on raising awareness around the nation regarding doing anything that’s possible to prevent child abuse.

There are numerous national and local organizations that serve the function of aiding families and children with abuse awareness and prevention.

One such organization is Elgin. Elgin serves Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. According to their website, since its inception they have helped more than 35,000 children. The foundation provides dental care that they otherwise would not be able to receive as well as help with early development such as reading and comprehension. They also work with abused children.

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William Paul Phillips, general counselor and vice president for child protection for the Elgin Foundation, works in 26 Appalachian counties and stated that all of the programs his department falls under works to prevent child abuse and neglect.

“Young children who are allowed to suffer pain and embarrassment from the lack of dental care are the victims of serious neglect. Children who fall behind in their reading and math skills are unlikely to succeed in life — children who are abused sexually and violently suffer terribly in silence. Elgin seeks to partner with schools, churches, dental professionals, and child advocacy centers to rescue children from these nightmares,” he said.

Phillips also highlighted what the Elgin Foundation is doing locally.

“One of our strategies to fight child abuse in Bell County is our grants to the Bell County School system and (more recently) to Pineville and Middlesboro for social workers whom we call school based child advocates. Brooke Hurley (Bell County Social Worker) has been very successful helping children in the county system….Affluent areas like Lexington and Louisville have social workers in their schools but poor counties do not. Brooke and Leah are working with the teachers, principals, and staff to get help to children in distress. They each average helping 30-40 children per month!”

When it comes to what one can do to prevent child abuse, Phillips stated that becoming aware to how much abuse goes on is key.

“We need to be alert and look out for our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and others. The more that child abuse and serious neglect are detected, reported, investigated, and prosecuted the less abuse there will be. The more that abuse is ignored, covered up, and denied, the more that children will suffer in silence,” said Phillips.