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Treehouse Advocacy Center asking for more community support

Video from WALB
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:38 PM EDT
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - After a call for help, the Treehouse Children’s Advocacy Center is searching for more community support going forward as they witness more and more children being hurt from abuse.

The organization recently requested emergency funds from the community to support three children who were admitted to the hospital after being impacted by abuse.

The need has since been met but the non-profit has found itself more and more in harder situations to help children in need.

Heather Irvin, Treehouse child advocate, said right now they are supporting over 75 families.

“This is a community issue. It’s a community problem and we all need to have our hands on deck to address the issue,” Irvin said.

Irvin works with over 75 families impacted by child abuse throughout the community.
Irvin works with over 75 families impacted by child abuse throughout the community.(WALB)

This year alone, Irvin said she’s served 60 families. Ongoing issues such as shortages of families in the foster care system aren’t helping the local resource.

“The foster care system would be a great impact to the children that we’re seeing. If that were more of a resource, perhaps we can see some of our children getting to that safety and healing a little bit sooner,” Irvin said.

With kids also out of school during the summer, Irvin said children are more prone to run away. She said they are keeping a close eye on the issue as runaway children are another subgroup that is also in need of the organization’s help.

“We want to first and foremost prevent child abuse from happening, so bringing awareness to the community is by far the number one priority,” she said. “We don’t want the children that have come here to have it happen to them. We want them to feel empowered, and knowledgeable, we want the caregivers to feel empowered and knowledgeable so that they can also help prevent something from happening to their children again.”

The advocacy center is stressing the importance of child abuse awareness in the community.
The advocacy center is stressing the importance of child abuse awareness in the community.(WALB)

Dr. Christine Renaud, a Treehouse Consultant Psychiatrist, said she’s seen kids as young as 5 years old impacted more and more by sexual abuse.

“The statistics and the research say that 1 in every 4 girls are molested in their lifetime or sexually assaulted (and) 1 in every 6 or 7 boys and that’s the research from the people that we know from reports that we take. That’s not talking about the people that have never come forward about sexual abuse,” she said.

That’s why Renaud said it’s crucial for the community to support the Treehouse and more resources like it.

“It’s happening everywhere and across all cultural, social-economic statuses. It’s everywhere. It’s on the rise. It’s present in our community every time you turn around,” she said.

Irvin encourages anyone to donate whether it’s a monetary donation or a physical one like a stuffed animal. She also said people can increase their awareness of the ongoing community issue.

“Speaking up, learning more on how to keep your children safe. If you know of an opportunity for us to come and speak to your church, group, or organization, whatever it is, we are always open to do that to promote safety and protection for our children,” she said.

Anyone looking to support the Treehouse Children’s Advocacy Center should visit their website at Treehousethomasville.org.

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