WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 30, 2014, 10:33 PM

A local advocacy center honored children with the courage to step forward about abuse

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Every 10 seconds in America, police get a report of child abuse.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Every 10 seconds in America, police get a report of child abuse.

A local advocacy center says the number of reports in the Red River Valley rises a little each year, and they are seeing more cases of trafficking and exploitation.

The Red River Child Advocacy Center worked with more than 550 abused children throughout the Red River Valley last year.

Tonight, they honored the courage of those children to step forward.

Feet pounded the pavement at Scheel's Arena, inspired by the courage of children.

People like Sharon Pederson, who doesn't have kids of her own, walked to honor victims of child abuse.

Sharon Pederson/Walker: "It's kind of near and dear to my heart. Even though I don't have any, I have friends who have some. For them to be in that situation would be really hard. They need help."

Child abuse is an ugly reality, and our area is not immune.

The Red River Children's Advocacy Center sees the number of reports creep upward each year.

Anna Frissell/Red River children’s Advocacy Center: "They've inched up a little each year. We believe part of that is because we're getting better at what we do."

Fargo Police investigated 180 child abuse cases in 2013.

Chief Keith Ternes/Fargo Police Department: "Every other day throughout the course of 2013, someone brought to our attention that a child right here in Fargo had been the victim of abuse or neglect. That's the ones that were reported to us, and we know that there are many others that go unreported."

Advocacy Center Executive Director Anna Frissell says they are starting to see more cases of child trafficking and exploitation.

So their team of law enforcement, social services, and medical professionals is gearing up a different approach for those children.

Frissell: "Children that have been trafficked or exploited often present with very different problems and very different needs."

And they'll keep marching toward a day when their work is no longer needed.

Frissell: "What we hope for the future is that there's no more child abuse."

April is Prevent Child Abuse Month, and about 70 people walked today.