Child abuse cases increase in 2021, over six hundred cases this past year
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - “You know, having to listen to all these traumatic events that these children go through is extremely taxing,” says Parkersburg Police Department detective, James Stalnaker. “And God bless them. It’s an extremely important position. And not much is more important than protecting our children.”
Stalnaker is talking about the work of the Children’s Listening Place, a local organization that helps children as abuse cases against them are investigated.
In 2021, the Children’s Listening Place saw more than six hundred cases in its four-county region. The most it’s seen since it opened in 2014.
Executive Director Greg Collins believes the increase has to do with awareness.
“I don’t think that there’s been a major influx in this criminal activity. I think it’s always been there,” says Collins. “Just the fact that they know about us now and what we offer to them. We became part of the answer at some point.”
Though Collins says the increase in reported cases likely had more to do with awareness than crime rates, the rise in reported cases is still having an impact on the Children’s Listening Place.
“Unfortunately, we’re going to have to cut back on some of the courtesy services that are being offered to these counties. But there are other CAC’s out there. And we’re happy that people choose to use us. It’s very humbling,” says Collins.
The increase also has officials thinking about expansion, the Children’s Listening Place already serves Jackson, Ritchie, Wirt and Wood Counties. And it may soon serve Calhoun County.
“It’s in the works. And we’re growing. And we’re getting better at what we do. And working for quality; quality over quantity,” says Collins. “But unfortunately, the numbers are there, and they hit us in the face and when those kids come in the doors, they’re going to get the help that they need. And we’re going to have to find a way to get it done.”
The Children’s Listening Place says that 98 percent of alleged offenders in its cases were someone the child knew.
If you know of any child, you believe is being abused you can call the number, (304) 917-4437.
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