Advocates explain why child abuse often goes unreported

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Nichole Draffen is working on providing a better life for herself and her two children. First, she had to make the decision to leave an abusive relationship.

"It is like you are brain washed, but you do not know that you are -- until someone tells you that that is what is going on," Draffen said.

Draffen is living at Sheffield Place, a treatment center and supportive housing for homeless mothers with young children. Ninety percent of the women who live at Sheffield Place grew up in abusive environments.

Kelly Welch is the executive director of the organization. She said there are many reasons people look the other way when they see mistreatment.

"Sometimes the entire family has skewed expectations, and because it is generational, it might be that their expectation of how you treat a child across the board isn't what we would expect. And it isn't what the community would accept, but in that family, it has been that way for generations," Welch said.

Under current law, social workers, educators, physicians, counselors, child care providers and police are required to report suspected abuse.

Welch would like to see the that list of people expanded to include just about everyone.

"It just makes it clearer cut to me -- when you see it, of course you should do something about it, but that's really easier said than done," Welch said. "You have to follow thorough, and again, I think we want to think the best of people."

Welch said abuse is a cycle that repeats itself -- those who are abused often become abusers themselves.


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