NEBRASKA CITY – Destiny Burkett of the Child Advocacy Center in Lincoln told Nebraska City Rotarians that the number of child abuse victims seen at the center is  five times higher than a decade ago and she expects the numbers to continue to rise.

The center saw 1,124 children from a 17-county area last year. About 72 percent of those cases were for sexual abuse.

Burkett: “One of nationally-accredited training is called Darkness to Light. They estimate for every child that does come forward to disclose there are nine others that don’t.”

She said the center is about to hit 16,000 mark of children seen since it opened in 1998.

She said the increase in reporting is due in part to the #MeToo movement.

Burkett: “But more and more, as time goes on, it’s becoming more acceptable to speak out. People are feeling believed. They are feeling like people are hearing them, so we are getting more people coming forward. I think they feel safer that someone is going to listen to them and believe them.”

She said she expects to see reports continue to rise until progress is made in the prevention side of it.

Burkett: “As they’re children, as we teach parents, educators and youth group leaders, teaching them how to be aware of it, how to identify it, how to prevent it, until that all starts, you know, catching on, then we’re going to continue to see the increase.”

Burkett said the goal is to reduce trauma suffered by child victims, strengthen families to provide safe homes and increase successful prosecution of abusers.