Posted: Jun 12, 2013 9:18 AM by Claire Anderson (Great Falls)
Updated: Jun 12, 2013 10:14 AM
GREAT FALLS - Over the past several years, central Montana has dealt with numerous child abuse cases, and it continues to be an issue.
Within the last few years, several children in Great Falls have died as a result of abuse, and just within the last 48 hours, we have reported on four cases of alleged child abuse.
MT State Senator Mitch Tropila of Great Falls worked to pass four bills during the 2013 Montana Legislature, including one which imposes harsher penalties on those convicted of child abuse, neglect, or endangerment.
Tropila said, "Maybe they will raise public awareness, maybe they will help law enforcement and county prosecutors get a better handle on what's going on in our community."
And its not just changing on paper - healthcare professionals are trying to tackle the problem as well.
Staff members at Echoz Pregnancy Center in Great Falls says they have seen too many young parents not ready to have children of their own.
Leslie Mahan, a nurse manager at Echoz, said, "These babies start to cry and (parents) get frustrated, we all can get frustrated but these children are having children and they do not have the coping mechanisms that they need."
Echoz recently purchased several dummy babies to help show parents the right way to sooth a baby; the dolls also demonstrate the effects physical abuse has on a young child.
Lights inside the head of the doll show where damage occurs, and what brain function are affected.
Echoz is hoping these babies will teach a different behavior; Mahan said, "What we want to do is have a place for them to go, where we can teach them coping skills, parenting skills, give them classes on what to expect so they're not just blindsided by this baby that's frustrating them and crying."
Child abuse prevention links: