Cases of children being locked away or neglected have made headlines recently in the Kansas City area. One child advocate says people are beginning to notice this type of abuse more often.
Earlier this year, authorities discovered a teenager who had been chained to a pole in his basement in his Northland home. He was malnourished and had been out of school for months. In another case, a 10-year-old Kansas City girl had been barricaded inside a closet that reeked of urine. Now Independence police said a 9-year-old girl's parents locked her in a basement and forced her to use the bathroom outside.
The cases are what child advocates like Virginia Lewis Brunk of Sunflower House would see.
"I think it's really happening not necessarily more than we think. I think it's being reported more than it was in the past," Brunk said.
As director of child assessment, she said often times she sees parents who isolate their children because they believe they are out of options - and also because it may have been the way they were disciplined.
"Parents are reacting because of stress. They don't know or don't understand child development. If you can put some support that will assist with that, maybe they won't be using such harsher choices," Brunk said.
While Brunk always urges people to report possible abuse or neglect, she also said there's more that the public can do before the situation turns into abuse. Brunk suggests reaching out to a struggling parent.
"Folks reach out when they see somebody in need. If you see a parent struggling, reach a hand out. Offer to bring them dinner, offer to babysit while they go to grocery store. Do things that will provide assistance," she said.
Don't be afraid to report possible abuse. You can do so anonymously if you suspect abuse. The hotline numbers are 1-800-922-5330 for Kansas and 1-800-392-3738 for Missouri.
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