Shattering the Silence campaign makes a difference

A child abuse victim in Indiana.
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Angela Cain/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A disturbing statistic: studies show that every day in Indiana a child loses his or her life to abuse or neglect. For the sixth summer, Channel 13 has been shattering the silence on abuse in the home. This story wraps up this year's campaign with more on the problem and how you can get involved.

You've seen startling images of children abused in Central Indiana this year. The abuse is hard to imagine.

But here are the facts: Prevent Child Abuse Indiana reports more than 20,000 Hoosier children suffer from abuse or neglect every year. That's 56 children in harm's way every day across our state.

"When the stars align, in terms of stress, drug and alcohol abuse, or being in a situation of domestic violence that's unsafe, a child can be harmed," said Sharon Pierce, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.

Domestic violence between parents is a major trigger for child abuse.

"Just witnessing domestic violence is a very traumatic thing for children. There's been some studies that show it's actually more traumatic to watch violence than it is to actually be a victim of it," said David Reid, child abuse counselor.

But children can be victims of the violence, too.

"We know that children who live in homes where there is domestic violence are at a significantly increased risk for physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect," said Dr. Roberta Hibbard, Riley Hospital for Children.

Dr. Hibbard is the Director of Child Protection Programs at Riley. Already this year, their emergency room has cared for some 250 children facing suspected child neglect or abuse. Riley doctors help up to 600 children a year suffering from suspected sexual assault.

Shattering the Silence partners at Riley show community leaders raising their voices in public service announcements urging you to help stop child abuse because our kids can't wait.

"Children are so important to us and we have to do everything we can to make sure that we take care of them, and we provide for them, we nurture them, we protect them," said Dr. Eugene White, IPS superintendent.

"When you see injuries, when you see children being mistreated or maltreated, don't be afraid to shatter that silence.  Call and get help," said Dr. Hibbard.

This summer, more than 1,000 people have called a helpline in Central Indiana concerning abuse in the home. In the six years we've been shattering the silence, officials tell us domestic violence calls have increased 300% and child abuse calls by 160%.

They are calling 926-HELP, the Connect 2 Helpline. You can call right now to get direction on domestic and child abuse.

Shattering the Silence