Helping children understand abuse

Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas reading to students, Apr. 23, 2014.

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — An important issue is getting some extra attention this month. April is Child Abuse Prevention month, and some school and public officials are trying to reach out to children to help prevent more tragedies.

There are an estimated 660,000 cases of child abuse in the U.S. every year.

“It is much more common than we would like to admit,” says Emilie Montgomery, executive director of early care and education at Community Renewal Team in Hartford. They addressed the topic of abuse Wednesday with young children during a reading event.

“It helps frame things for children in terms of good touches and bad touches,” Montgomery explained, “and what to do in the event somebody may be touching them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.”

The book they’re reading is called “Your Body Belongs to You”, and it’s a learning experience in more ways than one. Montgomery says after reading the book, children will sometimes come forward to reveal their own case of abuse.

Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas was one of the community leaders who came out today to read to the children.

“It’s an opportunity to share with children to make them aware of where they have to honor their bodies,” he said, “and the preventive measures we teach them at a young age they will carry with them the rest of their lives.”

Montgomery adds that if you know a child is being abused you need to speak up.

“I think it’s important, that for young kids they can’t speak up for themselves. That’s our job.”

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