‘It doesn’t define who a child is’: Child Abuse Prevention Month in the Pikes Peak area

There are a number of resources available in the Pikes Peak region for children dealing with abuse and neglect year-round.
Published: Apr. 16, 2023 at 5:52 PM MDT|Updated: Apr. 16, 2023 at 5:56 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - April is Child Abuse Prevention Month across the country. The month is a time to raise awareness, and there are a number of resources available in the Pikes Peak region for children dealing with abuse and neglect year-round.

According to El Paso County officials, 21,432 calls based out of the county were made to the child abuse and neglect reporting hotline in 2022. This generated more than 16,000 referrals for kids in the county, which can either become a case or result in a connection to resources for a family.

On the west side of the city, Safe Passage is a children’s advocacy center that houses a number of agencies and organizations that help coordinate the response when a child is dealing with abuse. The center serves both El Paso and Teller Counties.

“We have all of the key pieces of a child abuse investigation here in one location,” Safe Passage Executive Director Maureen Basenberg said of the center, which houses CSPD’s Child Crimes Unit, investigators with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Human Services representatives, Safe Passage advocates, UCHealth forensic nursing staff members, The Family Center mental health specialists, and prevention partners with Kidpower.

According to Basenberg, the center has historically seen and served more than 1,100 kids a year, but recently, that number has been closer to 1,300. She said that having all of these partners in one location has made a large difference in helping families through the stress and trauma of situations of child abuse.

“Even when a child has experienced abuse, we have the opportunity to intervene, maybe assist other family members, other children that may be at risk, right? So, we’re preventing their harm and preventing perpetrators from continuing to harm children in our community,” Basenberg said.

Safe Passage is just one resource available to children in the area in need of support.

In downtown Colorado Springs, volunteers with CASA of the Pikes Peak Region are working to serve as advocates for children in the court or welfare system due to abuse or neglect. According to CASA Communications Manager Keri Kahn, more than 800 kids in the Pikes Peak region are in need of a CASA volunteer at any given time.

“It’s a super traumatic time for these kids, and what they need more than anything is a trusted adult who can kind of stand by their side and guide them through their process and make sure that they’re being advocated for,” Kahn said. “There are so many sad stories that come through here with the children who have been mistreated and the children who haven’t had a fair shot in life, but what I’ve found from working here is that there are so many people in our community that… they just want to help.”

If you suspect a child might be a victim of abuse or neglect, the advice of both CASA and Safe Passage is to call the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 844-CO-4-KIDS (844-264-5437).

“Even if you’re not sure that abuse or neglect is occurring, we encourage you to make that call because it might save a child’s life,” Kahn said, “and if you don’t call, who is going to call?”

" We know that while child abuse is… is a huge crisis to overcome, it doesn’t define who a child is,” Basenberg said. “We have the opportunity to intervene, help them get help, get to safety and that, you know, that does give you some peace.”

More information about Safe Passage can be found here.

More information about CASA can be found here.

More information about the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline can be found here.