BUFFALO, NY - Buffalo, NY Every year across the country, there are 6 million cases of child abuse reported and 3700 children will die from it. Saturday, hundreds marched at the Million March Against Child Abuse of Western New York to spread awareness.
Jay J's smile and innocence reminds you he's just a young boy, but this beautiful child was once abused by his biological father.
"It was a three year battle to change this and now we're working on other initiatives," Kevin Retzer the boys great uncle said.
Retzer and his family helped advocate for Jay J's law to toughen penalties against child abusers. Saturday they marched alongside hundreds of others to spread awareness about child abuse.
"It's been kind of a silent epidemic where you have ten children a day across the countries that are being killed," Retzer said.
It's been found that about 80,000 children become victims of abuse or neglect every year across the state. To help, Senator Tim Kennedy pushed for a $2.5 million dollar increase in this years budget for Child Advocacy Centers. That's a 43 percent increase in funding.
"To ensure that these abused children get the services that they need, but also that these abuser are brought to justice," Senator Kennedy said. "We have seen these Child Advocacy Centers grow proportionately all across New York State from 13 just a few years ago to over 40."
Senator Tim Kennedy is also working on reform with Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes that would reform Child Protective Services that includes:
-Ensuring CPS workers are trained.
-Strengthening the New York State Child Abuse Hotline, tracking repeat reports of abuse.
-Improving investigations by requiring photographic evidence be gathered during caseworker visits.
As Jay J's loved ones march alongside others they hope to see more change.
"Some child abuse cases are not listed as child abuse and they are listed as blunt force trauma," Retzer said. "And some state laws need to be changed across the country to list it as child abuse"