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ANDERSON, Ind.-– A child advocacy group in Anderson sets up times to speak with kids about the signs of child abuse to watch out for. 

Little did they know, their session at Anderson Preparatory Academy would lead to two arrests.

A girl came forward and said she was being abused at home and within 24 hours her stepfather and her mother are now behind bars. 

Thousands of times a month Indiana state records show substantiated reports of child abuse. More often it’s unsubstantiated and then there’s the abuse that remains in the dark. 

Indiana law requires schools to fight that with training on recognizing the signs. That’s where an organization like Kids Talk comes into play.

“It’s OK to tell someone they should tell someone. An adult they trust. That they’re not alone. They may feel alone but it’s happening to a lot of children,” said Denise Valdez, the director of the program.   

Her team goes to nearly every school in Madison County to talk about abuse. Thursday was Anderson Preparatory Academy. She said, after their session ended with elementary students, a student walked up to them. 

“She indicated she needed to talk to someone,” Valdez said. 

Friday, two adults were arrested: the victim’s stepfather on a preliminary charge of child molesting, and her mother for neglect of a dependent.  

“A lot of kids, this is opening a wound for them, so it’s like a light bulb going off in their head and, when they’re learning this program, and ‘Oh,’ this this is happening to me and oh this is not OK and I should report this to someone,” Valdez said. 

Valdez said it happens that kids come forward after the meeting but not always an arrest within 24 hours. “It doesn’t happen that often.”

The primary purpose of these talks are to educate. But, Valdez said, giving children a chance to open up is vital to make sure they’re safe. 

Story by: Eric Feldman