The number is 250.
That’s 250 children from Talladega, Coosa and Clay counties who have suffered abuse at the hands of adults in one year. The number should be zero.
Palmer Place is a member of a network of child advocacy centers in Alabama. The staff there works in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, district attorneys in the three counties and the state Department of Human Resources to first get children out of abusive situations, then investigate and confirm claims of abuse, provide counseling for abused children, and when warranted prosecute the abusers, Executive Director Nancy Green said.
The first report of abuse may go either to DHR or to police, she said. The agency that receives the report notifies the other, and then they call Palmer Place to set up an interview time.
“Once here, we assess the child’s safety and decide whether he needs to come back for four to six sessions with a counselor,” Green said. If the case is prosecuted, Palmer Place staff members stay with the child throughout the process. Palmer Place pays the counselors $70 per hour, but all of its services are free for the children.
Palmer Place is a United Way agency, but it still has to raise money to meet expenses. Former University of Alabama football star Siran Stacy spoke at the Ritz Theatre Friday night to benefit the facility. Palmer Place is selling a number of inexpensive items in its signature royal blue color to raise both money and awareness during April. Green encourages employers to allow their workers to wear the blue shirts on Fridays this month.
Palmer Place does not operate a Web site, but it does have a Facebook page where visitors can get current information about upcoming events. The page carries a motto that is no less powerful for its familiarity:
“It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.”