Protecting Our Children special shines light on the darkness of child abuse

The Central New York broadcasting community came together April 25th to bring awareness to the important issues of sexual, verbal and physical abuse of children. In response to recent national and local headlines, Syracuse television stations collaborated on this one-hour special.

Watch the special:

Watch Part 1

Watch Part 2

Watch Part 3

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Studies show that only 10% of child sex abuse cases are ever reported and 90% of victims know their abusers.

Experts say that children are often unable to speak up about abuse themselves; they are often embarrassed, confused, or scared. This, they say, is why mandated reporters are so critical. Mandated reporters include teachers, doctors, daycare providers, summer camp director, district attorneys, police officers and others.

Sarah Easterly, Community Liaison for the Onondaga County Department of Social Services, says one sign of abuse are bruises. Bruises that are located in areas not often impacted by a common fall or a number of bruises in different stages of healing can indicate physical abuse.

Some abuse doesnâ??t leave a physical mark and can often be harder to spot. A change in a childâ??s character, behavior, and interactions can be a sign that something is going on in that childâ??s life.

Easterly explains that you donâ??t need evidence to report child abuse â?? all you need is suspicion. Once a report is made, it becomes the investigators job to look for evidence and proof of a crime. All reports made to the hotline are kept confidential; their sources are never revealed and there are laws in place to protect reporters.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 30% of children who are neglected or abused will later abuse their own children.

Jennifer Majesky-Pike is a Child Advocate at the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center. In Part 1 of the special, Majesky-Pike shows viewers what itâ??s like for children who visit the center. There is a play area, quite rooms for conversations, and a doctorâ??s office.

The Social Services Commissioner of Oswego County discussed the many improvements to Child Protective Services after the high profile child neglect case and the death of Erin Maxwell. The county is investigating about 1,000 more cases per year with about 20 more employees on average than it did just a few years ago.

Monique Wright-Williams spoke to CNY Centralâ??s Matt Mulcahy. Her abuse began when she was about 5 years old and continued until she was about 16. Wright-Williams says she was abused by teen girls, her uncles, and her step-father. Wright-Williams says no one else in her family knew about her abuse until years later when she was a student in college. Wright-Williams says that being abused at such a young age, during the "foundation years when youâ??re discovering who you are," can impact you into adulthood.

"If a perpetrator knows that a child might tell, theyâ??re not going to bother that child. Theyâ??re looking for the vulnerable child" who will keep it a secret, says Wright-Williams.

Child Abuse Hotlines:

Onondaga County Child Abuse Hotline: (315) 422-9701

New York State Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 342-3720

New York State Mandated Reporter Hotline: (800) 635-1522