Harrisburg Kiwanis met at noon on May 18, 2022, at Morello's where they listed to the program presented by guest speaker Sheryl Woodham from the Guardian Center.
Woodham began her presentation by explaining that the Guardian Center is a community response to child abuse, both sexual and physical. The main office is located in Carmi with satellite offices in Wabash County, Saline County and Healing Harbor in Robinson, Illinois.
Even though COVID had a significant impact on most every aspect of life, Ms. Woodham said that the number of abuse cases during the pandemic remained steady at 230-240 reports. She indicated that of the local counties, Saline County has the largest number of claims with most being for sexual abuse. As noted in the 2021 annual report, there were 208 allegations of sexual abuse in Saline County, 20 claims of physical abuse; and 30 instances of children being a witness to other crimes.
According to statistics, 90% of the children receiving services know their abuser. Girls are more likely to make an allegation than boys and the ages of people interviewed range between 0-35.
Anyone may make a referral but most requests to the Guardian Center come from law enforcement and DCFS, Woodham said.
For more information or to report potential abuse, contact the Saline County satellite office at 2 E. Locust St., Suite B in Harrisburg or call (618) 294-8422.