Kane advocates: Talk to your kids about abuse beyond strangers

In the past five years, 96 percent of the child sex abuse cases charged by Kane County prosecutors were cases in which the victim knew the abuser.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon on Tuesday cited this statistic - exceeding the national average of 90 percent - as another reason for parents to talk to their children about abuse from non-strangers, not only during Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, but as much as possible, and to be vigilant overall in keeping an eye out for other signs of child abuse.

"The vast majority of children are being abused in the home by somebody they know," said McMahon in his monthly meeting with reporters. "As a community, it is all of our responsibility to speak up when we see something. The law allows for this, as long as you're making a good faith report."

Certain professions, such as teachers, doctors and police, are among the "mandated reporters" of child abuse under state law and are required to contact the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services if abuse is brought to their attention or they suspect it.

For other residents, the state's child abuse hotline at (800) 252-2873, or (800) 25-ABUSE, offers a no-risk way to report possible child abuse and get the appropriate authorities involved.

"If you don't make that call, what we see is the abuse goes on for years," McMahon said.

Gloria Bunce, executive director of Kane County CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, said adults should trust their instincts when they suspect child abuse and if they "see something, say something."

"We have to be more proactive in our stance and talking to our children about things that could happen," Bunce said. "There are people - even in our own families - that are trying to build trust because that's what perpetrators and predators do."

To help spread the word about the hotline and reporting abuse, Kane authorities worked to develop a podcast explaining the process. It can be accessed on the CASA website and the state's attorney's website.

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