INDIANAPOLIS -- More Hoosier children are already reporting that they’re being abused than ever before and one organization says that number is likely to keep growing.
The advocacy group, Chaucie’s Place, was named after a brave young woman who did something unheard of in the early 1990’s – she got the courage to report her abuse and prosecuted her father.
The case ended in a mistrial and Chaucie Quillen couldn’t deal with the trauma, at the age of 21, she took her own life.
To ensure that the same thing never happens to another child, Melissa Peregrin and her team go into schools across Central Indiana to teach a body safety program called “Smart Steps.”
“We offer something called ‘talk time’ which is where we give the kids an opportunity to tell one of our staff members and somebody from the school about anything that has made them uncomfortable,” said Peregrin.
Peregrin says the number of students reporting some sort of abuse, especially sexual abuse, is on the rise in the state.
During the 2016 – 2017 school year, the group saw more than 23,000 students in the fourth grade and up – and met with more than 1,000 students for “talk time” sessions. Those sessions resulted in 44 abuse reports being filed.
But in From September to December 2017 the group had 1,011 “talk time” sessions with 33 total reports filed. Peregrin said the increase can be attributed to the recent headlines like the Larry Nassar trial.
“I really do think the environment that’s being created – where not only kids are seeing it but the parents are seeing it too,” said Peregrin. “The parents are being educated and there’s a lot more awareness for what’s going on in the world. This is not something that hasn’t been going on for years, it’s just now that we’ve pulled back the curtain – we shined a light on it.”
With new legislation going into effect this July that requires all children in grades K-12 to receive abuse education, Peregrin hopes that change will continue.
“I do believe that we will see an increase in the number of reports initially, my hope would be that through education and awareness we can put a stop to it,” said Peregrin.