GALESBURG, Illinois — Local 4 News is looking at how you can take action if you think a child is being abused.
This comes after our investigation into a child abuse case involving 30-year-old Joshua Hasselbacher. Knox County investigators charged him with the attempted murder of a young girl. Police records say she was the daughter of his girlfriend at the time.
When child abuse gets reported in Knox County, the Child Advocacy Center interviews the children involved. The staff handles about 100 cases a year. The Hasselbacher case was one of them this year.
“It doesn’t get easier.”
— CAC assistant director Jill Mann
The incident involving Hasselbacher and his girlfriend’s daughter happened in 2015, but Knox County deputies, Galesburg police officers along with caseworkers from the Department of Children and Family Services said in arrest records they didn’t know about it until this year.
Knox County Child Advocacy Center assistant director Jill Mann said it’s not unusual for days, weeks, months or even years to pass before abuse gets reported. Sometimes victims don’t come forward until their adults.
She said there are several common reasons they see delays:
- Children wait until adulthood to report: In Illinois and Iowa, people who suffered sexual abuse as a child have 10 years after their 18th.
- The child tried to report: Mann said children may tell an adult in their life about the abuse, but the adult does not report it because they don’t believe the child or don’t know how to handle the report.
- People don’t think it’s their responsibility: Illinois and Iowa law requires medical personnel, school staff, social service employees and mental health professionals, law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners, childcare personnel and members of the clergy to report any suspected child abuse. Mann said people who fall outside of those categories may not think it’s their duty.
Mann said the one rule people need to remember is if you see something, say something.
“Absolutely make that report, whether it’s to the Child Abuse Hotline and to DCFS or whether it’s to law enforcement,” Mann said. “Then let the investigators check it out. It might be nothing, but if your gut is telling you something’s wrong it may very well be something.”
If you believe a child is being abused you can report it by calling or texting the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.