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Child molestation cases on the rise in NEMO community

Child molestation cases have risen in one northeastern Missouri community.

There’s a shocking new number for surrounding child molestation cases in one northeast Missouri community.

Shelbina Police Chief Jerry Fenton has this advice for all adults who might suspect child abuse no matter where you live -- always take a child seriously.

"I think it's important never to assume that an accusation is false or that it's a child who is making something up," said Fenton.

After seeing 18 child molestation cases in the last three years, Chief Fenton says that number has to do with more people having courage to come forward.

"The conversation started and then that allowed others to talk about it or say this happened to me. That's when another investigation starts. The cases that we've been working, all of them have been children or at least minors," Fenton explained.

In response to the number of molestation cases, Kelly Hayhurst, Principal at Clarence Elementary issued this statement:

At Shelby County R-IV Schools we continuously strive to keep our students safe and educate staff on their roles in this. With regards to child abuse and neglect, we work with local agencies on a collaborative level. Our staff is trained annually on warning signs of abuse and neglect and what to do with those situations. All staff are considered mandated reporters and are trained annually on their roles and responsibilities. Programs are also provided to students about prevention of abuse and neglect in efforts to keep our students educated and safe.

Megan Duesterhaus serves as Executive Director of Quanada in Quincy.

"When we see increased reports to law enforcement about any kind of sexual violence, as advocates we don't automatically say 'oh no, there's this huge increase in crime.' We actually say 'oh good' it means that people are reporting," said Duesterhaus.

She advises everyone to pay attention to what children might be telling you - or not telling you.

"If you notice something that you think isn't right physically, keep your eyes open...you might have to do a little bit of investigating," Duesterhaus said.

Chief Fenton says pay attention to the resources available to you, no matter where you live in the Tri-States.

"Look at all the sex offenders that are in your town or in your county or throughout the state," Fenton said.

If you ever have reason to be suspicious about possible child abuse or molestation, Chief Fenton says to contact your local law enforcement.

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