Kentuckiana hospitals announce new initiative to wipe out child abuse

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by Claudia Coffey

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Updated Thursday, May 17 at 7:12 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A new initiative was announced Wednesday to eliminate child abuse in Indiana and Kentucky.

When it comes to child abuse, the Commonwealth ranks eighth in the nation.

Thirty to 40 children die from child abuse every year in Kentucky, but a new initiative launched by Kosair in partnership with other regional hospitals is hoping to change that statistic.

Kara Mellick never expected the tragic story of child abuse to impact her family. Her nine-month-old daughter Karlie was thrown against her crib and shaken violently. Karlie died of massive injuries in 2009 at the hand of a trusted family friend.

"In most cases there are signs that are missed or overlooked because a family member or a friend is scared to step up and do the right thing,” said Mellick.

Karlie’s organs were later donated.

Kara and her mother Allison as well as Ebony Carson, whose son barely survived child abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, all shared their personal and painful stories of how child abuse affected their lives. They spoke to a group of physicians from Kosair Children's Hospital, U of L Pediatrics, Kentucky Children's Hospital and Peyton Manning Children's Hospital St. Vincent in Indianapolis, Ind.

They hope their story will help others and launch a new initiative of change.

"Think about when you get mad or upset and you whip him or her or you call them names or holler at them out of anger. Ask yourself, does that child really deserve what you are about to do," said Ellis.

The regional initiative has one goal; to eliminate child abuse. Wednesday’s meeting was the first big step to getting the word out.

"We need to get out to the families -- who is safe to leave your child with, who is not safe, what are warning signs that you can look for in someone you are leaving your child with whether it be a boyfriend, neighbor or daycare worker. There are warning signs out there," says Dr. Stephen Wright, Medical Director at Kosair Children's Hospital.

There is no clear answer for why Kentucky ranks so high, but there is the desire and the will to change it.

The next step in this initiative is a major educational campaign. All of the officials involved will reach out to school age children as well as physicians to teach them about the early warning signs and what steps to take to contact authorities.

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