ST. JOSEPH -- 1,214 is the number of child abuse cases handled in Stearns County in the last two years. April is child abuse awareness month and the Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center is letting people know it's okay to talk about child abuse.

The center held its first awareness event, "Stand For Kids" Thursday at the College of St. Benedict, since opening last October. Program Director, Katie Boecker says child abuse can happen anywhere, big cities, small towns, churches and it's our duty as community members to report it.

"What I often say is you don't have to investigate, you just need to get the basic factual information, the who, what, when, what do you know, make that report. And then at that time it's law enforcement's job to investigate and the social worker's job to investigate. It's the community's job just to make that report."

The Child Advocacy Center helps provide children a safe place to talk about their situation with law enforcement and medical professionals. A child often has to go through several meetings to explain what happened to them. Boecker says, by bringing all of the professionals under one roof, the child doesn't have to relive the trauma by telling their story numerous times.

Patty Wetterling, St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson, St. Cloud Assistant Police Chief Jeff Oxton, Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall and CentraCare Clinic President David Tilstra also spoke during the event.

If you suspect a child is being abused, reach out to your local law enforcement.

More From AM 1240 WJON