Child abuse scandals have been making headlines over the past weeks, but that has helped raise awareness about the issue nationwide. Our Bill Mich spoke with a local group working to ensure Southern Tier residents know that child abuse can happen anywhere.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The alleged sexual abuse of children by Jerry Sandusky at Penn State shocked the nation, only to be followed by similar accusations against former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine.
No one could have seen it coming, but it brings up an important issue: abuse and neglect can happen anywhere.
“So many people are unaware that these predators are out there. Some of the crimes, the sexual crimes, are just horrendous and we don't like to think about it. But it does happen in every community, perhaps every day," said Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger
Chemung, Steuben, and Schuyler counties are no different, and there are plenty of children who have faced abuse and neglect and are in need of help.
That is where CASA of the Southern Tier steps in. The organization held a fundraising brunch in Watkins Glen on Sunday.
CASA of the Southern Tier Executive Director Amy Plumley said, “We recruit and train community volunteers to advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children in family court."
There are more than 1,500 cases of child abuse and neglect in those three counties each year, but simply not enough volunteers to assist those children moving forward.
"If we had a CASA for every abused and neglected child in the community, we would need over 800 more volunteers. Currently we have about 47 active volunteers and the serve approximately 120 children each year," said Plumley.
The cases involving Sandusky and Fine are certainly high profile, but if true, they are just two examples of a nationwide problem, a problem that has reached the Southern Tier. And while there is no changing the past for these kids, CASA is working to ensure a brighter future.
To learn more about CASA of the Southern Tier, or how to volunteer your time to the organization, visit http://www.casasoutherntier.org/home.html