Winnebago County Has Highest Child Abuse Rate In Illinois

- ROCKFORD - Deaths from child abuse are at a record high in Illinois, and child abuse reports are on the rise here in the Stateline. Kathy Pomohac said the director of the Carrie Lynn children’s advocacy center in Rockford said “Winnebago County has the highest reports of child abuse in Illinois.”

Although those rates are startling, The Carrie Lynn Center which is nestled in on Main Street in Rockford is working to change that statistic one child at a time.  “We work with law enforcement, DCFS, the states attorneys’ office, mental health providers, and medical providers to make sure that the system does not re-traumatize a child when they are going through the investigative process.” Said Pomahac

Over 300,000 victims are reported in the state of Illinois each year and the Carrie Lynn Center takes in hundreds of those cases.  “We are the busiest advocacy center in the state of Illinois; we receive about 600 referrals a year of child sex abuse cases, and severe physical abuse cases.” said Pomahac

Pomahac said identifying sexual abuse may be difficult for children because the adult may disguise the abuse.  “The abuse is sometimes presented as a game or fun, or this is family time, so they don’t even realize what is happening.”

The center wants children to be educated on what sexual abuse is--and they have one big rule for kids to remember.  “No one should touch the private parts of your body, unless it is to keep you clean or healthy.” said Pomahac

Erin’s Law which has now been passed in nine states including Illinois calls for education in schools on sexual abuse. “One of those schools involved is Washington Academy in Belvidere. Assistant Principal Kelly Murdock said that education is key.  “School is a safe place for the children, so were bringing in the Carrie Lynn Center to speak to each of our grade levels one at a time.”

Pomahac said that reaching out to help children in need is a must and that the education courses in the school can help prevent abuse from happening all together.  “It’s gratifying in a way that we are able to reach out to those children and give them the permission to tell, when they may have never told.”

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