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"Breaking the Silence" of Abuse in Rockford

Statistics show that Winnebago County deals with twice as many cases of child abuse/neglect than the rest of the state of Illinois. Tonight, the city of Rockford declared October "Domestic Violence Awareness Month."
It's almost like taboo. Nobody likes to talk about it.
ROCKFORD (WTVO) -- The abuse or neglect of a loved one isn't acceptable in society, but neither is talking about the issue.

"We just need to have more public awareness than we do now," says 8th Ward Alderman Jeanne Oddo. "It's almost like taboo. Nobody likes to talk about it."

17th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Rosemary Collins has seen many cases in her 23 years behind the bench and she agrees.

"We need to talk about it," says Collins, Chairman of the Family Violence Coordinating Council we need to make it socially acceptable for victims to come forward."

Statistics from the National Network to End Domestic Violence show that three women are killed everyday as a result of domestic violence. While it's a sobering number, the same could be said for child abuse and neglect.

For every 1,000 individuals, 19.3 deal with child abuse and neglect in Winnebago County. That number is more than twice the statewide number (8.3).

On a night where the city of Rockford proclaimed the month of October "Domestic Violence Awareness Month," the discussion of abuse make a very clear connection.

"Statistics do show, when there's abuse of a parent, there's abuse of a child," says Collins.

Fixing the problem is one thing, but Collins doesn't think that fixing loopholes in the legal system is the answer.

"I think we have some pretty good laws that deal with this issue in the state of Illinois, but we could always use more resources," Collins said. "I mean that's the problem when you have a police department that has so many cases. The more police officers we can have that deal with these kind of cases, the better off the community is."

"Everybody needs to be involved from city government, the police, the schools, even the neighbors," Oddo said.

The 17th Judicial Circuit Court Family Violence Coordinating Council is hosting an event - "Shining the Light on Domestic Violence" on Thursday, October 24 in the Talcott Building in Rockford.
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