Abuse needs to be stopped

Staff Writer
Washington Times-Reporter

In two recent, but separate, events, Washington children were put in harm’s way.

It was not their choice or because of anything they did.

In the first incident, Michael E. Edgecomb, 32, of 103 Sterling, was arrested for not only hitting his girlfriend and a  male friend who was visiting, but also for throwing an infant about 10 feet across the room, according to police reports.

The reports go on to state that the girlfriend, and baby’s mother, caught the infant.

Edgecomb pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently awaiting his day with a jury.

In the second incident, Timothy Johnston, 22, of 109 S. Wood St., was arrested for kicking a 3-year-old boy in the genitals and then slapping him in the face after the boy said he was going to tell, according to police reports.

Johnston is reported to have been watching the boy while his girlfriend, the child’s mother, was out.

The incident is reported to have occurred March 28.

Police report that Johnston said the boy fell down the stairs on his front side, causing bruises to his face and the injuries to his groin.

Despite the facial bruising resembling and a visible handprint, according to Police Chief Jim Kuchenbecker, it was not until he was in preschool March 31 that someone thought to call authorities.

After being confronted, and with the help of the brave 3-year-old’s statement, Johnston admitted to kicking the boy in the genitals, according to police.

However, Johnston claims it was an accident and happened while the two were playing soccer.

Who plays that rough with a 3-year-old who is just learning the coordination needed to play games involving a ball?

Johnston is currently in custody on $100,000 bond at the Tazewell County Justice Center in Pekin.

Abuse is not an uncommon crime. If it were, there would be no need for the Center for Prevention of Abuse and Department of Children and Family Services.

And, although any abuse is despicable, using a child as something to toss, punch or kick is especially deplorable.

Children cannot defend themselves.

What ..is equally despicable is the federal government threatening to cut funding to the Center for Prevention of Abuse for services to domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault victims.

The center faces a 25 percent cut starting July 1. That translates to a loss of $250,000  in 2008.

In July 2009, the feds have said they plan to cut 100 percent of the center’s funding.

That translates to a loss of $1 million.

These cuts are the result of federal funds drying up to finance the Violence Against Women Act and Victims of Crime Act.

It was lack of funding that forced the center to close its Washington office.

Emily Cahill, spokesperson for the center, said as the federal government slashes these funds because of a troubled economy, the need for the services provided will only grow.

The likelihood of violence at home increases as the economy’s woes trickle down to citizens, resulting in job losses and other stressors.

The cuts creates a mixed message. The judicial system is urged to continue to do its part in stopping domestic violence.

But what of the victims? Without funding, the center is limited in the support it can offer victims leaving them thinking there is nowhere to turn for help, therefore, leaving them in the cycle of violence.