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Missouri victim advocates warn they are seeing a higher number of kids and teens strangled by adults

Child Abuse
Posted at 9:29 PM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 23:19:34-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For more than two decades, the Child Protection Center has served Jackson, Clay, Cass and Lafayette counties' young victims who have been physically or sexually abused, as well as those who have witnessed violence.

This year, they have seen an increase in the number of children and teenagers who have been strangled by parents and adults. The reason why remains a mystery.

"I really have no idea," Lisa Mizell, CEO of the Child Protection Center said. "I wish I could give you an explanation for why it's so much higher. I just really have no idea."

From January to August of this year, the Child Protection Center has had 57 children disclose they've been strangled and 19 children disclose they witnessed strangulation during a domestic violence incident.

"When you strangle someone, it's really trying to take control of the situation. Frustration bubbles over, anger bubbles over. It's an extremely dangerous thing to do," Mizell said.

Dr. Jim Anderst, the division director of Division of Child Adversity and Resilience at Children's Mercy Hospital, agreed.

"Parents who strangled their teenagers didn't suddenly become violent when a child was 15. They use violence to solve problems in their life and with their children all the way, strangulation is just another step in that process for them," he said.

Anderst said many of these patients are teenagers.

"It's challenging because these are often teenagers who are nearing adulthood and will go off on their own. And when you've known a childhood full of violence, you often know an adulthood of violence. And you can pass that on. It's late in the cycle of violence to stop it but that doesn't mean it can't be stopped," Anderst said.

If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, report it immediately to the Child Abuse Hotline* or call 911.

  • Hotline number if you are in Missouri: 800-392-3738
  • For hearing and speech impaired, please contact Relay Missouri 1-800-735-2466/voice or 1-800-735-2966/text phone.
  • Hotline for children living in Kansas: 800-922-5330
  • *The Children’s Division Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline Unit (CA/NHU) accepts confidential reports of suspected child abuse, neglect or exploitation. Reports are received through a toll-free telephone line which is answered seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

If the child is in immediate danger, call 911.

What to do if you think a child has been abused:

  • Keep calm
  • Listen to the child
  • Reassure the child that they did the right thing by telling someone
  • Reassure the child that they are not in trouble
  • Answer the child's questions honestly
  • Report the allegations to the police and the Children's Division or Social and Rehabilitative Services (SRS)
  • Don't pressure the child to talk about the allegations