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Clare County Community Working To Bring Awareness To Child Abuse

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A community is trying to bring awareness to an alarming number of child abuse cases lately.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, so we had the Northern Michigan Mobile Child Advocacy Center go through the number of cases they’re seeing locally, and they are both shocking and saddening.

Especially in Clare County.

In the past year, there were 87 cases of child abuse there.

Compared to 27 cases in Gladwin County.

The advocacy center says nearly all of those cases were child sexual abuse.

9&10’s Taylor Jones spoke to those trying to reduce those numbers.

“There was 87 the last year in Clare alone and 66 percent of those children resides in Harrison,” says Hollie Harcourt, child and family care coordinator at Northern Michigan Child Advocacy Center.

Heart-breaking numbers of child abuse cases reported in Clare and Gladwin Counties.

“Its alarming that that’s out there. I remember being in a meeting not too long ago and someone mentioned this doesn’t happen in Harrison right, and I’m like yes it does, it happens all over,” says Harcourt.

The Northern Michigan Mobile Child Advocacy Center says 97 percent of those cases are sexual abuse.

Clare county Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis says just in the last month, she had 25 child sexual abuse cases sitting on her desk to be reviewed.

“Most children are picked on by somebody that they know that’s a friend of the family, a lot of times we see step parents or moms boyfriends, so you need to be very careful about who you let around your children. We try to resolve the cases by way of plea to make it a more secure conviction and to ensure that the kids are not further traumatized though the court system. It’s hard on everybody, it’s difficult to read the reports to see the charges there and then when you bring the kid in and you meet them and they are such great kids and they are so brave when they come into court. The parents are often times torn to themselves, they didn’t know the abuse was going on, they missed it and they blame themselves for their children being hurt by someone else and it’s an awful process to go through,” says Ambrozaitis.

The advocacy center and community continue the effort to bring awareness to this sad truth.

“Be aware, listen to kids when they are talking. Be a listening ear, be a support, reach out for help for people if they need it and really just be aware and know it’s out here,” says Harcourt.