Altus, Okla. (TNN) - According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, Oklahoma ranked 13th in the nation for states with the most cases of child abuse in 2019. Director of Altus’ Great Plains Youth and Family Services, Kim Rumschlag, said that number has likely gone up.
“Right now Oklahoma has approximately about 15,000 substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect. When school was shut down ... sometimes school is a a childs’ safe haven, sometimes that’s the only place where they get a meal. When kids were not able to go to school they were at home with their abuser all day long maybe,” she said.
She said while she’s relieved that students are back in school, she knows they are not the only ones who need to learn and wants to educate as many people as possible about the harmful effects of child abuse. This year she teamed up with the city.
“Here in Parks and Recs were about helping the kids, you know it’s all about the kids for us so we love teaming up with anyone that wants to team up with us to make sure we spread the word to help our kids out,” Altus’ Parks and Recreation Department Director, Freddy Perez said.
With about two dozen parks across the City of Altus, Rumschlag said there’s plenty of opportunities for people to ensure the safety of children by simply being observant.
”We want people to report ... you know everyone is a mandatory reporter. If we suspect something or we see something it’s better to get it checked out,” she said.
You can report suspected child abuse or neglect by calling DHSs’ hotline number at 1-800-522-3511.
One way she said child abuse can be prevented is through empowering parents with tools, resources and knowledge.
Great Plains Youth and Family Services provides several free resources for parents in need of help and can be reached at http://www.gpyfs.org/ or by calling (580) 379-0203.