In 2016, more than 3,200 child abuse cases were reported to the state from Oswego County, an increase in recent years, according to the Oswego County Department of Social Services.
Christine Patrick, the director of services at the Oswego County Department of Social Services, has seen many of these cases related to poverty and a myriad of other issues.
“Poverty has a lot to do with some of our cases,” Patrick said.
She also stated that lack of education, inadequate living conditions and a lack of money were all factors aiding to child neglect.
“I think there’s a really big correlation between poverty and child abuse,” Patrick said. “People have a hard time meeting their own needs, and subsequently have a hard time meeting their children’s needs. They turn to other things, such as self-medicating, which in turn leads to drug use.”
A study conducted by the International Journal on Child Abuse and Neglect found that child abuse and neglect increased during the recession.
In addition, Patrick said that as family sizes increase, often times the distribution of families and children not living together increase. The number of cases increases as a result of these factors.
In 2015, the National Children’s Alliance published that an estimated 1,670 children die from abuse annually. There are 700,000 abused children yearly in the United States.
Many organizations in the Oswego area are working to combat this by teaming up to raise awareness and funding.
The brothers of the Oswego State chapter Delta Kappa Kappa and the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team are working together as part of an organization known as For The Kids. Together, they work locally to donate to the Oswego Child Advocacy Center.
Over the four years the organization has been running, the two groups have raised over $30,000.
After realizing the situation in Oswego, the two groups knew they had to start something with the school, and are continuing to do so today, said Shawn Hulshof of the men’s hockey team.
To help parents get back on track to help their children, the Department of Social Services offer at-home counseling. The department works and holds contracts with outside agencies that directly go into the homes where care is needed.
“We contract with various service providers in the community to provide counseling, drug treatment, parent education and individual counseling,” Patrick said.
Treatment and counseling services, such as the ones offered, allow for parents to properly and appropriately care for their children, Patrick said.
For families needing service, there is no charge. The money comes as a reimbursement from the state, as well as from the county through taxes on citizens.
For those interested in helping abused and neglected children in the area, the Department of Social Services is looking for foster parents to act as caregivers to children when their primary guardians no longer can. The center provides training and classes for those interested and qualified.