Archived Story

Child Protect deals with more cases

Published 7:43pm Friday, November 9, 2012

Zuelzke said she believes some people view Child Protect as “just another counseling center” instead of the county’s only children’s advocacy center providing specialized services for youths coping with physical and emotional mistreatment.

Accompanying children to trials, providing expert testimony in criminal child abuse cases and helping victims heal through counseling are three services Child Protect provides eight hours a day, five days a week.

One of the most significant services Zuelzke and her team offer child abuse victims is a safe, friendly environment for their one-time forensics interviews.

“The interview is recorded so we can review it so the child isn’t having to relive this traumatic experience time after time after time,” Bates said. “It’s done for their benefit more than anything else.”

Zuelzke said of all the cases Child Protect intervenes with in the county, 95 percent are sexual abuse usually, 3 percent are severe physical abuse and 2 percent are of children who have witnessed crimes.

Reasons why victims delay reporting sexual abuse or may never tell include:

•Offenders often threaten or intimidate their victims.

•Victims often fear that they will not be believed.

•Victims love the offender and don’t want him/her to get into trouble.

•Victims may feel ashamed, embarrassed or at fault.

•Victims do not feel the opportunity to disclose was ever appropriate.

•Children may not understand the wrongfulness of the conduct especially when abused by a trusted adult.

“In the past, decades ago, things like this were covered up,” Bates said. “Now, we encourage people to bring these things forward.”

Child Protect’s mission is “to help get justice for the children and to help them heal,” Zuelzke said and added that both are equally important.

“This is what we do every day,” Zuelzke said. “We’re doing a lot with what we have, but if we don’t continue to get support from the county, unfortunately the piece that gets cut out is the counseling.”

Anyone can help Child Protect continue its mission by making a donation at any time.

Donations are tax-deductible and may be mailed to Child Protect – Chilton, P.O. Box 588, Clanton, AL 35046.

Child Protect is also preparing for its second annual Butterfly Bridge Run, a charity motorcycle ride to raise money for the center.

The ride is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 8, and will depart from the Clanton Walmart.

For more information, call Child Protect at (205) 755-4205 or e-mail jzuelzke@childprotect.org.

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