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Kentucky has 5th highest rate of child abuse, Lexington nonprofit educates community about the issue

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and a Lexington nonprofit is using the time to educate the community about the issue.
Published: Apr. 9, 2022 at 12:58 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and a Lexington nonprofit is using the time to educate the community about the issue.

Governor Andy Beshear will plant pinwheels on the Capitol grounds Monday to raise awareness.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show Kentucky is ranked in the top five worst states for child abuse.

Ben Kleppinger, the community engagement coordinator for Court Appointed Special Advocates, (CASA,) of Lexington said the nonprofit uses this time to make people aware of a big problem Kentucky is facing.

“Just over 15,000 children were neglected or abused in Kentucky last year, the rate is about 15 kids out of every 1,000 in the state,” he said.

Kleppinger said it’s easy for people to narrow their definition of abuse.

“Physical abuse is the one everyone thinks about, but there’s all kinds of abuse including neglect, which is a different category where the child is not receiving something they need, maybe shelter, food or clothing,” he said.

He said CASA’s goal is to end abuse entirely.

“We don’t want to stop the abuse after it occurs, we want to stop it before it happens in the first place,” Kleppinger said.

There are ways to do it.

“Abuse happens more often when people are encountering problems like, not having enough money to make ends meet, not being able to get their child good childcare, all kinds of things tied to poverty and drugs,” Kleppinger said.

He said eliminating these stressors will make kids safer.

CASA of Lexington said people can help end child abuse through volunteer work. Volunteers meet with a child on a monthly basis, talk to adults in their life and report back to the judge assigned to their case. Kleppinger said it’s a way to help get them more resources and back into a safer home.

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