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January 31, 2005

Jackson Allegations Put Focus On Child Abuse In OKC Area

January 31, 2005 [KOCO ChannelOklahoma.com]

While jury selection began in the Michael Jackson trial Monday, state leaders and child welfare workers were working to raise awareness of the problem of child abuse in Oklahoma.

On Monday evening, Oklahoma first lady Kim Henry took part in a candlelight vigil at Norman's Alcott Middle School to remember the victims of child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma. At the same time, several metro-area organizations were working to stop child abuse -- and many counselors said the problem is more common than many Oklahomans might think.

Counselors at the Parents Assistance Center told Eyewitness News 5's Rachel Kim that parents from a variety of backgrounds come to themget help. They said clients at the center learn many things based on a core idea: that peace begins at home.

Although it's not uncommon for parents to get into arguments with their children, counselors said, many parents who have sought help from the Parents Assistance Center have allowed their arguments to escalate into violence.

"Robert," whose real name has been withheld for privacy reasons, knows that fact all too well. He said that he didn't realize the damage he was doing when he verbally and physically abused his 14-year-old son for lying.

"I hit him ... I said bad things to him," Robert said. "(I) left bruises on him (and) scratched his face up."

Robert's counselor, Vicky Brooks, said Robert abused his son because he himself was abused. But the biggest reason abuse happens, Brooks said, is stress and a lack of understanding when it comes to controlling emotions.

"I don't think it's uncommon for parents to have thoughts like that every now and then," Brooks said. "But it's important to prepare yourself. That stress could get to you and becoming overloading at times."

According to Brooks, anyone who is given the right set of circumstances and stress factors in his or her life could wind up abusing his or her child. Robert said that after he took time to learn about his own circumstances, he changed his outlook on how to deal with stressful situations at home.

"There's no need for violence," he said. "There's no need for bad words. I've learned to listen to my kids. I'm no longer angry, (and) I realized that I can take my time."

Brooks said that many parents like Robert are putting off counseling and need to get help.

"They need to do all the things necessary for a healthy lifestyle," she said. "They need to eat right, they need to exercise (and) they need to have friends and social support."

Substance abuse is another major factor that can lead to child abuse, Brooks said. In addition, she said that 50 to 75 percent of domestic violence cases become child abuse cases.

Parents who would like more information and who want to get help can contact the Parents Assistance Center at 232-8226.

Posted by Nancy at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)