Thursday, October 23, 2014


Sofia Martinez, 2, plays with her dad Jose at the "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" event held by Child And Parent Services at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Kelsey Hasbrook sang at the "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" event held by Child And Parent Services at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Child And Parent Services of Elkhkart held a "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

James Pippin, Department of Child Services Regional Manager for Region 3 spoke at the "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" event held by Child And Parent Services at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Child And Parent Services of Elkhkart held a "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Magistrate Deborah Domine spoke at the "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" event held by Child And Parent Services at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Sofia Martinez, 2, plays with her dad Jose at the "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" event held by Child And Parent Services at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth)

Mekayla Diehl, Miss Indiana USA 2014, spoke of the abuse she suffered as a child and the advocacy work she plans to do at the "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" event held by Child And Parent Services at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Mekayla Diehl, Miss Indiana USA 2014, spoke of the abuse she suffered as a child and the advocacy work she plans to do at the "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" event held by Child And Parent Services at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Child And Parent Services of Elkhkart held a "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

Avry Bevins, 4, plays with a pinwheel at the "Pinwheels For Prevention Candlelight Celebration" event held by Child And Parent Services at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The event celebrated those who work to end child abuse and honored victims of abuse themselves. (James Buck / The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)
Child abuse cases decreasing in Elkhart County, more work remains
Posted on April 9, 2014 at 12:01 a.m.

ELKHART — While the number of child abuse cases in Elkhart County is decreasing, there is still work to be done.

According to statistics from Child and Parent Services (CAPS) of Elkhart County, the number of child abuse cases reported in Elkhart County has dropped 37.4 percent since 2008. Statewide, the number of child abuse cases has fallen just 0.8 percent

CAPS celebrated this progress at the annual Pinwheels for Prevention Candlelight Celebration on Tuesday, April 8, at the Joy Rose Center.

The event was one of several held across the state Tuesday evening by the Indiana Department of Child Services in recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention month.

Miss Indiana USA 2014 Mekayla Diehl, an Elkhart native, has firsthand experience with the county's foster care system.

"When I was 8 years old, I was sexually abused by a family friend," Diehl said.

Deihl said she didn't realize something was wrong with the situation until a woman visited her third grade classroom to talk about appropriate and inappropriate forms of touching.

After she told her mother about the abuse, her mother left. With her father in prison, Deihl and her brother entered the foster care system and were put in the care of their grandmother.

She said she has since forgiven her abuser and is using her experiences to help others and bring attention to the issue to child abuse.

"Now, at 25, I want to share my story," Deihl said. "I want to be a voice for every boy or girl who couldn't speak."

Magistrate Deborah Domine commended CAPS and the other people who work to help prevent child abuse in Elkhart County for all their hard work.

"The system doesn't change lives," she said. "People change lives. You change lives."

The children who pass through Domine's courtroom come in through "different doors," she said, some as children in need of services and others as juvenile offenders, "but every one of those children is important and every one of those children deserves our best work."