Child Abuse Prevention Month: Where silence ends and healing begins

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River Bridge Regional Center provides services for child abuse victims and non-offending family members.

RBC | Current statistics report that one out of eight children will experience physical abuse by the time they are 18 years old. One in 10 will be sexually abused before turning 18. River Bridge Regional Center (RBRC) believes that even one child who is a victim of abuse is too many. Each year more than 11,000 children in Colorado experience abuse and/or neglect. River Bridge Regional Center (RBRC) offers services for child abuse victims and non-offending family members from Rio Blanco, Eagle, Garfield, and Pitkin counties. RBRC is a nationally accredited child-advocacy center, bringing together a multidisciplinary team approach which includes victim services, medical personnel, law enforcement, prosecutors, forensic interviewers, child protection workers, and mental health professionals. This team comes together for effective treatment of child abuse and prosecution of child abusers. Referrals to the organization are provided from law enforcement and human service agencies. The services RBRC provides, from mental health therapy, medical exams, forensic interviews, and family advocacy, are free for all of our clients. We work with the child and their non-offending family/guardians to ensure they find their road towards hope and healing.

In 2019, River Bridge provided services to 245 children and 368 non-offending family members; 31 of those children came from Rio Blanco County. Since 2019, the number of child abuse cases referred to RBRC from Rio Blanco County has grown 165%. RBRC’s immediate crisis intervention services are critical to help children heal and have a positive quality of life. Studies reveal that victims of abuse are better able to handle crises and have fewer long-term negative effects when immediate support is provided. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) study reveals that any type of childhood maltreatment increases the factors for poor quality of life. The Child Welfare Information Gateway identifies several physical, psychological, behavioral, and societal consequences to child abuse that can lead to juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, prostitution, and homelessness. River Bridge exists to ensure expedient services are provided for child abuse victims and for the welfare and future of our community’s children.

Nearly 90% of victims know their offender? River Bridge is available to provide outreach and education to schools, parents, community groups and businesses in Rio Blanco County. We provide essential outreach and awareness events to help recognize the signs of abuse and how to report child abuse, child abuse prevention strategies, decency and consent information, internet and social media safety, and an overview of child-advocacy services at River Bridge. Therapist Meghan Hurley teaches a class and has a podcast, “Ten Tips Every Parents Should Know to Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse” available through our website www.riverbridgerc.org/podcasts. Last year her children’s book, “Who’s The Boss of This Body?” was released and is available on Amazon. If you would like to have one of our trainers present in your community, please contact Kat Stenquist at katherine@riverbridgerc.org.

“Knowledge is our strongest weapon” in combating the pervasive issue of child abuse, according to the National Children’s Alliance.

Special to the Herald Times