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KVC Hospitals

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Collaboration of KC Professionals Mend Broken Children

*Photo credit: The Kansas City Star

Over the years, shocking stories of abused and neglected children have appeared on news stations throughout the Kansas City metro area. The Kansas City Star is shining a light on the latest story to emerge in Independence, where authorities picked up a malnourished 10-year-old after he ran away from home. The boy had been forced to live in the basement of his home where authorities discovered bottles of urine and a soiled bed that the boy slept on.

For these severely abuse and neglected children, the road to recovery is a long one. The physical abuse – malnourishment, bruises and scars – is only a fraction of the damage that’s been done.

“When exposed to this level of abuse and neglect, the long-term impact, it’s physical, psychological, social. It’s neurological.” -James Roberson, director of programs and training initiatives for KVC Hospitals 

In order to cope with these traumatic experiences, doctors, therapists, agencies and communities must step in to help these broken children. Roberson says the first step is reassuring the child that they are in a safe environment and no longer in danger. Next, children can learn coping strategies and build relationships. After these steps are taken, therapists can work through triggers stemming from the child’s trauma.

Roberson has seen incredible results due to the implementation of trauma-focused care at KVC Prairie Ridge Children’s Psychiatric Hospital.

“There are thousands of children in the Kansas City area that are exposed to abuse, neglect and violence, that are receiving appropriate treatment. And they are healing every day. I see children walking out of our facility every day smiling, hugging staff. It’s absolutely possible for children to heal from trauma. I’ve seen children get beyond things I would say to myself, ‘I don’t know if I could get beyond that.’”

While it’s important for the Kansas City area to help the children in these high-profile cases, our community needs to get better at identifying children at risk for abuse and neglect before their story makes headlines. Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect in Kansas City provides the following signs for recognizing child abuse or neglect:

Possible signs of child abuse or neglect

A child:

  • shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention
  • has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • is always watchful, as through preparing for something bad to happen
  • lacks adult supervision
  • is overly compliant, passive or withdrawn
  • comes to school or other activities early, stays late or does not want to go home

Signs of physical abuse

  • unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones or black eyes
  • fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
  • seems frightened of parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
  • shrinks at the approach of adults
  • reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver

Signs of neglect

  • frequently absent from school
  • begs or steals food or money
  • lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations or glasses
  • is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
  • lacks sufficient clothing for weather conditions
  • abuses alcohol or other drugs
  • states that there is no one at home to provide care

Click here to read the entire article from The Kansas City Star.