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CNY Advocates Worry About Children Facing Danger At Home, In Neighborhoods

John Smith

Central New York officials are reflecting on the struggles facing Syracuse children at home and in their neighborhoods as they mark National Child Abuse Prevention Month.   McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center Director Colleen Merced says that without in-person learning, child abuse has gone unnoticed in the virtual setting.

"The challenge is a lot of times, our teachers, our bus drivers are all those people who are looking out for these children who many times are at home with the person who's abusing them." 

Merced says the pandemic hasn’t stopped more than 14-hundred children from visiting the facility over the past year.  A local non-profit organization called Street Addiction is raising awareness about the impact of street violence on children.  Director Noble Jennings-Bey says some kids are trying to process a wide range of emotions.

"Paranoia, fear.  This is a pot of gumbo.  Not a good pot of gumbo.  There are so many elements, and unfortunately, you have young people in our community who have grown with this since they were 5 years old, and they have learned to survive. When you have to learn to survive, love gets pushed to the back."          

This, he says, impacts a child’s identity over time.  But following recent police brutality incidents around the United States, some people may be reluctant to call for help.  Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner says that he wants his police force to be viewed as a resource.

"In many instances, some of those negative incidents are police related.  This gives us an opportunity to be a bridge to services, to programs, to resources to help those individuals who are experiencing those traumatic moments."

More information about services provided by the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center can be found here or by calling  (315) 701-2985.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at