“It’s an ugly subject to talk about but that’s where fixing it starts,” said Ward County deputy state’s attorney Kelly Dillon.
In 2014 the state received over 12,000 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect, and while there are no recent reports on what the numbers look like now, officials in Ward County say there’s been an uptick.
“We’ve seen a really strong uptick in endangerment of a child cases which typically involve exposing a child to drugs,” said Dillon.
And it’s not just criminal drug use.
“We’re all hearing about the opioid crisis, it’s just a product of the increase of drug use in our community and nationwide,” said Dillon.
There’s also a number of cases involving sexual abuse.
Intervention starts with law enforcement and county social services
“We get our referrals from law enforcement or social services when there’s been an allegation of abuse the family comes here and we meet with the child,” said Northern Plains Child Advocacy Center therapist Tricia Baldwin.
With the child’s safety as their priority.
The earlier the intervention the better,” said Baldwin.
Nathalie Gomez reporting: If you see a child being abused call the police immediately and if you suspect child abuse or neglect but haven’t seen it directly still call.
“Any improper or lack of care of child’s physical needs or emotional needs constitutes neglect any injury or emotional injury inflicted on a child constitutes child abuse,” said Dillon.
It’s not an easy solution, but awareness is a place to start.