Letters

Letters 09-29-2014

Benishek Doesn’t Understand

Congressman Benishek claims to understand the needs of families, yet he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would cause about 10 million people to lose their health insurance. He must think as long as families can hold fundraisers they don’t need insurance...

(Un)Truth In Advertising

Constant political candidate ads on TV are getting to be too much to bear 45 days before the election...

Rare Tuttle Rebuttal

Finally, I disagree with Stephen Tuttle. His “Cherry Bomb” column in the 8/4/14 issue totally dismayed me. I always love his wit and the slamming of the 1 percent. His use of fact and hyperbole highlights the truth; until “Cherry Bomb.” Oh man, Stephen...

Say No To Fluoride

Do you or your child’s teeth have white, yellow, orange, brown, stains, spots, streaks, cloudy splotches or pitting? If so, you may be among millions of Americans who now have a condition called dental fluorosis...

Questions Of Freedom

The administration’s “Affordable Health Care Act” has ordered religious orders to provide contraception and chemical abortions against the church’s God given beliefs and teachings … an interesting order, considering the First Amendment’s clear prohibitions...

Stop The Insults & Talk

I found it interesting that Ms. Minervini used the Northern Express to push the Safe Harbor agenda for a 90-bed homeless shelter in Traverse City with a tactic that is also being utilized by members of the city commission. Those of us who oppose the project are being labeled as uncompassionate citizens...

Roads and Republicans

Each time you hit a road crater while driving, thank the “nerd” and the Tea Party controlled Republican legislature.

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · New hope in the battle...
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New hope in the battle against child abuse

M‘Lynn Hartwell - May 9th, 2011
New Hope in the Battle Against Child Abuse
By M’Lynn Hartwell
Many of us have fond memories of our childhood. We grew up feeling secure,
safe, and loved unconditionally by our parents and caregivers.
Unfortunately, this is not a reality for hundreds of children in our
region. A recent survey of the first 100 children who had been victims of
childhood sexual abuse, seen by the new Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy
Center, had an average age of just under nine-years-old.
Currently there are over 48,000 known sex offenders in the State of
Michigan. Of these, about 13,000 are incarcerated. Around 4,500 of the
registered sex offenders are out of compliance; as required by law. Some
of these people may be living in our region. Michigan ranks number two in
registered sex offenders per capita.
Three years ago the Michigan State Police received a grant to establish
the new position of “Community Service Trooper.” In our region, Trooper
Rich Hall works out of the Kalkaska post. His responsibilities include
developing community-based services and training. We are already seeing
results from his efforts, as we share ideas, and develop new solutions to
the challenge of child sexual abuse, neglect and bullying in NW Michigan.
On April 16, the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, in celebration
of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, hosted “Building a Brighter
Future for Children,” launching a ‘Zero Tolerance for Child Abuse’
collaboration and commitment among agencies and organizations, including
our Traverse City Area Public School District, law enforcement, social
services, our family courts, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa
Indians, the GT County prosecutor’s office, as well as leaders from the
faith community.
“No longer will it be up to us individually, or up to any single agency to
ensure the safety of our children,” stated Brooke Nettz, executive
director of the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center.
The TBCAC team believes that it is only through the collective
consciousness of the entire community that will protect children from
abuse, bullying, and neglect.
“If you are not going to teach your child about sex, somebody else is. And
guess what that’s going to look like!” Nettz says. “It’s not going to be
pretty. If you are not going to talk to your child about their body;
somebody else will. It may be a relative, a friend, somebody you trust
from your church. We must do a better job of teaching children about their
bodies, and boundaries earlier in life.”
For instance, if a four-year-old discloses that “grandpa touched me,”
this child probably won’t know that grandpa’s touching was wrong. This
child may not even be mad at grandpa, so how do we as the Advocacy Center
meet this child’s need? We are now able to teach them about body safety
and personal boundaries. We help them to be strong and resilient, because
everything about their life is about to change.
Some of the ways we help children include reaching out to their family’s
faith community.
“Maybe they are in a great church group, and we are able to reach out and
say, you know what, this family needs a little extra support right now,”
Nettz says. “Maybe this family will need help from the Women’s Resource
Center, because the family was living with Grandpa, and now they don’t
have a home. Maybe they need food, and we will pick up the phone and call
the Father Fred organization and say, ‘we really need some extra
nutritional assistance for this family.’ We look at each individual
family‘s situation and develop a network in order to support this family.”
On April 25, the Traverse City Area Public School Board passed an
“Anti-Bullying Policy” that will protect all students and staff with no
exceptions, to the cheers of several hundred concerned parents and
community members. The TCAPS policy includes a more responsive and
accountable family-based response to bullying in our schools. Teachers,
counselors, and staff are receiving training on how to recognize the
different types of offenders along with their motivations, as well as how
to recognize the indications of childhood bullying, abuse and neglect in
victims. TCAPS is also addressing how to thwart online predators who are
increasingly savvy at grooming and luring children in the cyber-world.
Michigan law requires that all physicians, dentists, dental hygienists,
medical
examiners, nurses, EMTs, audiologists, psychologists, marriage and family
therapists, counselors, social workers, school administrators, teachers,
law enforcement officers, clergy and child care providers must report
suspected child abuse or neglect.
Once a report is filed, the child, along with their family, becomes
eligible for a wide range of services that will improve the family’s
ability to care for their child.
It is up to all of us to help a child or vulnerable adult. Please make the
call. Your call is confidential.
Who to Contact if you think that a child is being abused (information is
confidential):

• Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties 231.941.3900 (after hours:
800.937.5903)
• Benzie County 231.882.1330 (after hours: 800.937.5903)
• Kalkaska County 231.258.1200 (after hours call 800.937.5903)
• Antrim County 231.533.8664 (after hours call 800.937.5903)
References:
• Michigan Sex Offender Registry – http://www.mipsor.state.mi.us/
• Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center – http://www.traversebaycac.org
Traverse City Area Public Schools – http://www.tcaps.net
• World Forum Early Care and Education – http://www.worldforumfoundation.org
• Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians –
http://www.gtbindians.org

M’Lynn Hartwell has worked as an early childhood development specialist,
a Traverse City Human Rights commissioner, as a professional educator, a
para-legal, and researcher. She is an advocate for social justice, civil
rights, and the environment. She has two adult children and owns the
local communication and marketing firm “Utopian Empire Creativeworks,”
serving regional and Fortune 500 Corporations.
 
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