Above and beyond in the name of children
February 24, 2014
FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Hills Police Department Sgt. Jon Haupt can easily rattle off 100 cases dealing with child abuse and sexual assault that he has handled, and although the cases never become easier, he said staying positive is the best solution for the children’s sake and his.
“I can sit (here) and say pretty much all of (the cases) are terrible and they have that impact on you. But you have to look at the positive,” Haupt said.
Staying positive and investigating child and sexual assault cases has earned him and 16 other offices recognition and honor during the annual Circle of Friends: A Benefit for CARE House luncheon Jan. 29 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.
CARE House of Oakland County is a leading resource in the prevention and protection of victims of child abuse and neglect, according to a press release.
“He is one of the officers we honored for this event because he has been an advocate for children and keeping children safe in Oakland County,” Vicki Celani, president of the CARE House board, said recently.
TV personality John Walsh and Gov. Rick Snyder were featured guests at the event.
Walsh, who delivered the event’s keynote address, is the co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and also has helped push several child abuse victims’ rights bills through into law.
Snyder recognized Oakland County law enforcement officials from Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Township, Clawson, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Novi, Royal Oak and Southfield.
Haupt was the only officer honored from Farmington Hills.
Haupt said the reason he went into law enforcement was to work with victims of abuse.
“I can’t put it in any other more simple way than that,” he said. “It is very cliché, but it is to help people. I saw that as my avenue to make a great impact on everybody that we come into contact with.”
Haupt, who supervises one of the Police Department’s investigative units, is mainly responsible for child abuse investigations and sexual assault investigations. He said he sees a lot of the tools and resources available today to help survivors, and everyone plays a role.
“We all connect together,” Haupt said. “From the Prosecutor’s Office to your child advocacy center, like CARE House, to Child Protective Services … when it comes to the main entities involved in child abuse, child assault investigations … we are all dependent on each other.”
CARE House of Oakland County, in Pontiac, is an extension of the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Oakland County. Established in 1977, the council is a collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies, CPS, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office and more.
CARE House aims to address child abuse and neglect by prevention, education, intervention, treatment and support services for victims and their nonoffending family members. Services are provided for free.
The problem should not be understated, but it often is, according to Carol Furlong, executive director of CARE House.
“Sexual abuse (of children) is really an epidemic,” Furlong said. “It is estimated by the National Children’s Alliance that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually molested before they’re adults. People just aren’t aware. It is a huge problem.”
For children who have been neglected, CARE House sends home visitors to check on them once a week and make sure they’re receiving proper care. This includes making sure their medical needs are being met and that they’re on a proper feeding schedule.
To prevent abuse from occurring in the first place, CARE House has education efforts in the schools and within the mandated reporter community, helping doctors, teachers and other individuals who may be in contact with kids to recognize behaviors that are telltale indicators of abuse, and how to report it.
“And we teach the children the appropriate boundaries for interacting with adults, teaching them when they should say ‘no,’” Furlong said. “We also teach them it’s OK to tell someone if something does happen.”
And then there is the treatment and support for those who have suffered abuse, in the form of therapy that’s available.
“That’s just the first step,” Furlong said. “The emotional recovery takes a long time, but it’s worth it. Statistically, children are very resilient, if they receive treatment in the way of counseling. And our staff is trained in child trauma and (is) very well equipped to handle those processes. It is a problem that is solvable.”
For more information, go to CAREHouse.org.
Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski contributed to this report.
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