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New strategy helps child abuse victims in Colorado Springs

Posted at 12:48 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 08:22:19-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — There is a new model for confronting child abuse in the Pikes Peak Region. “It is meant for you as a child, so you know the minute you arrive, this place is about you,” said Safe Passage Children’s Advocacy Center, Executive Director, Maureen Basenberg.

Safe Passage is in a new building designed to put kids at ease. Even more important is a new and improved way of helping child abuse victims navigate the system in place to help them.

Up until now, kids dealing with abuse would have to bounce around the city to police stations, hospitals, and human services. “They’re having to tell it again, and again, and again,” said Basenberg.

With the new location and revised strategy, Safe Passage is now the only child advocacy center in Colorado with advocates, police, forensic nurses from UCHealth, mental health pros, and prevention experts all under one roof and all working together for kids. Now, the kids will be able to "tell the story one time only and be able to move through our process to help achieve healing and hopefully justice," says Basenberg.

It is an improved way of doing business for a organization that would like to go out of business, but instead is too busy. Basenberg says they “see six or eight [kids] in a busy day.” According to Basenberg, national statistics show one in four girls and one in six boys face some type of sexual abuse and the numbers are similar for physical abuse.

New Colorado data tracking reports of child abuse, show a significant jump in numbers compared to the previous year when kids were home most of the time because of the pandemic. “What you had during the pandemic was a break in that ability to build trust, so the kiddos were not with outside caregivers, they’re not with their teachers, or school counselors, or those they build those relationships with, and then reports went down.” It shows that schools, daycare centers, and other child oriented organizations are important safety nets for kids dealing with abuse.

The data from the Colorado Department of Human Services shows reports to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline for 2021 went up statewide by 8% to 208,949. In 2020 there were 193,498 reports.

The number for the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is 844-CO-4-Kids (844-264-5437)