I was looking at the Grand Junction Police Department’s annual report this week and what is clear to me is that crimes against children are far too common in Grand Junction.

There are the typical things you expect to see on a report like this such as homicides, rapes, aggravated assaults – even prostitution. But what stands out the most to me are the crimes against children – child abuse and sexual assault on a child.

The number of child abuse cases in Grand Junction in 2017 was up just slightly from a  year ago totaling 187. That’s eight more cases than were reported in 2016, but nearly double the amount of cases reported five years ago. (101)

Sex assault on a child charges in Grand Junction were down slightly for the second consecutive year totaling 110.

The Western Slope Center for Children reports that more than 300 children in Mesa County are subjected to physical and sexual abuse each year. My heart breaks when I think about the innocent children that have been abused and mistreated.

In 2017, more than 200,000 calls came to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. These calls refer to everything from sex trafficking, suspected child abuse, neglect, and sexual exploitation of children.

These children’s lives are forever changed by the unspeakable things they must endure and are exposed to. We may not even know to what extent they have been damaged and affected until many years in the future. It will be nearly impossible for these children to escape the memories and the horror of their childhood.

I mentioned this the other day, but I’m so thankful for the agencies in Grand Junction that exist for the well being of these helpless children, whether it’s the Western Slope Center for Children, Aerial Clinical Services, CASA, or the Mesa County Department of Human Services.

A single case of child abuse, or sexual assault on a child is one too many. Unfortunately, we live in a world that houses despicable human beings who are a menace to society, a danger to children and need to be locked away for good. Finding these people and convicting them is a long, slow – and sometimes inefficient process.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. We can’t stop fighting. We can’t give up. Our children need us to stand up for them and protect them. If you suspect child abuse, make the call.