Exploring child abuse in southwest Louisiana

By Brandon Richards

LAKE CHARLES - According to the Louisiana Department of Social Services, 1,419 child abuse investigations occurred in June of 2009, the latest month with information available.

This number might surprise most people, but not David Duplechain with Family and Youth Services of Lake Charles. The organization deals directly with abused children in southwest Louisiana.

"We have two programs that work specifically with abused children, our court-appointed special advocacy program, or CASA, and our children's advocacy center," Duplechain said.

Duplechain says it's rare for abused children to be free from the legal system within a year.

"Some [spend] much longer, some less," Duplechain said. "Depending on how quickly the parents are able to work their case plan [and] the seriousness of the allegations against them."

And spending all that time in the legal system often takes its toll on children.

Clinical psychologist and McNeese State University Professor Charles Robertson says kids are not able to deal with that amount of stress.

"Children attempt to cope with the stress of the abuse, the way children think, and the way children cope," Robertson said. "And those are usually not going to be successful solutions for the complex emotions involved."

Robertson says often times abusive parents were abused themselves, when they were children.

Robertson says if more adults sought out counseling services, they might find their problems are manageable, even curable.