Protecting and Sheltering Our Children
One of the greatest tragedies we face as a country has to deal with the abuse of our younger generations. It’s no secret that children are not always treated properly, and it is heart wrenching to think about the physical, mental, and sexual abuse that some children deal with on a daily basis. According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children (ASPCC), over 4.1 million reports of child maltreatment are made per year, involving over 7.4 million children. Only 3.5 million of those children receive prevention and post-response services.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, there are about 19 reports of child abuse per every 1,000 children. Though there are reports made, not every report becomes a confirmed case of child abuse. We spoke with Stephanie Myrick, the Executive Director of the Escambia County Child Advocacy Center to receive some information on the most common types of abuse reports in our area, along with some of her insight and techniques of dealing with children who are victims of abuse.
Myrick says that the most common reports they receive pertain more to sexual abuse than those of physical abuse. She says that “One of the most difficult aspects [of working at the Advocacy Center] is listening to the traumas and heart wrenching disclosures of children whose innocence has been stolen by perpetrators.”, and that the key to handling these cases is “being sensitive and sympathetic to the nature of the allegations or report and being willing to listen open mindedly.”
Often times if an abuse case falls back on the parents or guardians of the child, then the child will be placed in foster care. Escambia County has over 5.7 cases per month. There are only 11 foster homes in the county, and each house can hold no more than 10 children (including biological), the state doesn’t usually place more than 6 children in a home. So as you can see, Escambia County is running out of room for foster children. We also spoke with Autumn Brown, the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Place. Philadelphia Place is an operation in the process of becoming a foster home/crisis center for 10 boys ages 10 up until their 17th birthday. Margaret Silbernagel, the brains behind the operation, said in an interview with the Tri-City Ledger that “We chose boys, because more people are willing to take the girls,” said Silbernagel, “We chose boys age 10 to their 17th birthday.” However, when we spoke to Autumn Brown, she said “We originally were going to be able to to house 10 boys, ages 10-17. The building we were hoping to obtain is now under contract with another buyer.” Considering the building that they were hoping to purchase is now under contract with another buyer, they are going to have to build the housing project. We asked how the public could help with the development of Philadelphia Place, and Brown said “We need help with funding, fundraising, land donated or help finding land to build the housing project. We will have a booth set up on Railroad Junction day downtown by the post office selling baked goods; we will also be having a silent cake auction to raise money for Philadelphia Place.” With efforts to protect the abused children of our county, we all can pitch in and help raise funds for the Philadelphia Place project.
The project members of Philadelphia Place also plan to construct a transitional house for teens that age out of the system at age 18, and teach them life survival skills, among other things that they may need to face the real world. These children that are abused and neglected need as much help as they can get. They are the future generations that will run our country, and we need to ensure their safety and educational opportunities. Everyone can donate to the Escambia County Child Advocacy Center, or to the Philadelphia Place project. The Advocacy Center has a wishlist of things they need listed on their website (http://www.escambiacac.org/). The Philadelphia Place organization needs mostly good used children’s clothing, and any cash donations to help with the construction of the building.
“Child Abuse and Neglect .” Alabama Public Health, 26 Jan. 2018,
“Child Abuse Statistics.” American SPCC, 2017, americanspcc.org/child-abuse-statistics/.
McPherson, Gretchen. “Boys Foster Home Coming to Flomaton?” Tri-City Ledger, 14 June
2018, www.tricityledger.com/story/2018/06/14/news/boys-foster-home-coming-to -flomaton/1095.html.
“Wish List.” Escambia County Child Advocacy Center, www.escambiacac.org/wish-list.html.