Puppets teach about abuse

Published 6:58 pm Monday, April 24, 2006

A puppet named Katie may have helped area children recognize the problem of child abuse among their friends.
After puppet shows brought to area schools to educate children during Child Abuse Prevention Month, four students disclosed either they or a friend had been abused, officials with the Escambia County Child Advocacy Center said Tuesday.
Representatives with Hope Place, the Child Advocacy Center and Department of Human Resources traveled to six area schools and presented the puppet show titled &#8220Katie Finds Help.”
During the performance, Katie's friends recognize a bruise on her face and address the issue.
The puppet child tells her friends she deserved it. When the teacher arrives in the classroom and notices the bruise on the face, she begins to ask Katie what happened to her face.
After the story is told and the authorities have been notified, the abuse stops and Katie is shown in school several weeks later bruise-free.
Stephanie Jackson of the Child Advocacy Center said after several of the shows, officials had &#8220at least four disclosures” of abuse, not just physical abuse.
Out of about 500 third-grade students, the number reported is not abnormally high, she said.
But, Jackson said the focus is not on the numbers; rather, officials are pleased students are aware of such problems and are reporting the incidents.
Vicki Fussell with Hope Place said the puppet show is just an avenue to disclose such information. &#8220It's a reminder it's OK to talk to people, even if it's not abuse happening to them,” Jackson said. &#8220But they are aware it's happening to friends.”
Children are advised to confide in a counselor or teacher regarding abuse happening to themselves or others.
Abuse can also be reported to the Child Advocacy Center at 809-2906.
Each case reported will be further investigated, authorities said.

Email newsletter signup