Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Imagine a child who has been stripped of any sort of traditional upbringing. A child who deserves to run, laugh, and play, like all children do but can’t because of physical and emotional trauma.
This child shows up for school everyday, often arriving early and staying late. From the teacher’s perspective, the child always follows instructions and has become a bit of a perfectionist during assignments. The child seems to pick up on everything, is observant, and notices things other kids don’t.
In the eyes of the unsuspecting, this child may seem like the next rising star.
The unknown, however, is that the child lives a completely different life at home. This child is the victim of abuse. It comes in the form of physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and/or emotional maltreatment.
The child uses school as a safe space, arriving early and staying late to prolong the inevitable. A berating fist, an inappropriate gesture, or an onslaught of yelling and screaming are waiting for them when they get home. These things have become this young person’s reality.
The child follows instructions and seeks perfection, not because of a drive to succeed, but because they are afraid. They have learned to watch for any sign of the next attack and are constantly alert to their surroundings. For them, trauma is always present. School offers a brief reprieve, but it’s not enough.
Sadly, this story is all too common. It’s become a familiar theme at AWARE’s Lewis and Clark County Children’s Advocacy Center. We’re determined, though, to minimize the level and duration of trauma these children are experiencing. Once we’ve been alerted to a situation, we bring together pediatricians, law enforcement, FBI agents, members of Montana’s Children and Family Services, and many other dedicated professionals to help expedite the process. We’re rooted in the belief that the child’s needs come first, and we are driven to reduce the lasting effects associated with cases of abuse and neglect.
It’s a serious issue that deserves serious attention, and we’re committed to doing our part. Every child deserves every chance they can get to become a rising star. It’s our goal to keep giving them those chances.