Child Abuse growing problem in CNY, center saw over 700 cases this year
SYRACUSE, NY – Several recent high-profile cases have brought attention to the problem of child abuse in Central New York.
We’re learning more details about the abuse suffered by Eli MacDowell. The 9-year-old was allegedly slammed to the ground by Corey Pilcher last month, causing him to suffer severe brain trauma that put him into a coma.
Pilcher is also accused of abusing Eli’s sister. According to the Auburn Citizen, court documents show Pilcher poured hot sauce into the girl’s mouth and taped it shut after he says she was too loud while watching television.
Eli is now recovering after several surgeries, including one to remove a portion of his skull.
The boy’s tragedy is not the only case of child abuse to make the headlines this week.
On Thursday, Stephen Howells and Nicole Vaisey were sentenced in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office described as one of the most horrific cases of child abuse they have ever seen.
Howells and Vaisey received a total of 880 years in prison after admitting they sexually assaulted six children, including two Amish girls they kidnapped from a roadside farm stand in St. Lawrence County in 2014.
Before the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher said more cases are expected to come forward. Adding Howells and Vaisey are not the first in the area to sexually exploit children and they would not be last.
Every year, more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the U.S., according to a non-profit group called ChildHelp.
In 2010, more than 79,000 children in New York were abused or neglected, according to the State’s Central register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.
The McMahon Child Advocacy Center saw more than 700 kids this year in their center for child abuse and had 6,500 hotline calls.
At the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse believe one child is too many when it comes to child abuse.
Jami Ryan, who represents the center, says it is shocking how many victims from Central New York walk through their door.
She said: In the year 2014, the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center saw over 700 kids. We had 6,500 hotline calls, so, absolutely the numbers are there.
Ryan explained that over 90 percent of the cases they see at the center involve a child who has been sexually abused by someone they know, love and trust.
She said: A lot of times when we see these kids, it can kind of be a confusing situation. Maybe they know what has happened is not right, it might have made them feel uncomfortable, but at the same time, it can be a little confusing because it is usually happening by someone who they know.
How can we combat this growing issues?
Ryan says it starts with awareness — Knowing the signs and symptoms of child abuse and reporting it is critical.
For example: Maybe an adult that they used to pick them up from school that they were happy to see, they’re not really wanting to go home with anymore.
Being aware of any changes or behavior can really make all the difference.
The center has an outreach program where members from the center go out to schools across Onondaga County talking to children on how to be safe and how to alert someone they trust if something is not right.