Kids’ Space is a child-focused center that provides & coordinates professional on-site medical treatment, forensic interviews & mental health services for child abuse victims, their non-offending caregivers and victims of sexual assault. They seek to promote healing and a lasting impact through treatment, prevention and education.
Abuse Prevention and Support program implements a curriculum in Muskogee Public Schools called “Play it Safe, one grade at a Time,” to educate our community’s children. The “Play it Safe” curriculum is an evidence based, age- appropriate, risk reduction program.
All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars may be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school.
A mental health component was added this past year utilizing “Adverse Childhood Experiences” (ACE’s) and a HOPE/Resiliency counterpart to measure the progress of these abused children.
In the spring semester of the school year, our Play it Safe teacher was at one of the local elementary schools delivering the program to grades all week. The second grade class was the first on her list that week so Monday morning “Maddie” a second grader, met our teacher and learned something that would change her life.
“Maddie” was living with her aunt and uncle at the time. She didn’t know where her mom was, only that she hadn’t seen her mom “in a really long time.” On Wednesday that same week, Kids’ Space received a referral from child welfare to do a forensic interview and sexual assault exam on a 7 year old girl. The allegations included the uncle sexually abusing his live in niece, drug exposure and possible sex trafficking.
It was “Maddie,” the second grader our teacher met just a few days earlier. “Maddie” disclosed in her forensic interview, confirming the allegations. She also mentioned the “Play it Safe” program and how she learned that she could tell a trusted adult if they were being hurt. So “Maddie” told her teacher on Wednesday what was going on at her home. Her teacher called in the report to the child abuse hotline and it was assigned to an investigator that same day.
“Maddie” was removed from her Uncle and Aunt’s home and placed in foster care. Her uncle was arrested. If not for our program, “Maddie” would still be with her abuser.