Annual community roof-sit raises funds and awareness about child abuse

The St. Clair County Child Abuse and Neglect Council (CAN Council) believes in the philosophy, “It shouldn’t hurt to be a child,” meaning, every child has the right to grow up having a happy, carefree childhood.

Sherry Archibald, Executive Director of the nonprofit, explained that child abuse cases in the county have increased drastically since 2010.

“The state of Michigan has a higher case level than many of the other states – 12% for every 1,000 children,” Archibald says. “St. Clair County is at 17.9% for every 1,000 children, which is much higher than what the normal projections would tell you.”

To raise awareness about child abuse and neglect, Archibald and her team partnered with WSAQ Q-Country 107 to host an annual roof-sit benefit. This year from Sept. 11-16, WSAQ Radio’s morning personality Matt Markham camps out on the roof of MiMutual Mortgage in downtown Port Huron where he broadcasts live, advocating for donations to fund the CAN Council’s programs and services that would help children and families. Over $150,000 was raised during last year’s event.

While on air, the CAN Council team members joined Markham to discuss the prevention education that’s offered and highlight the magnitude that child abuse has created.

“We’ve always been predicted based on projections that we would interview between 135 to 165 children a year, yet we interview roughly 220,” Archibald says. “It goes to show that we all think it’s not happening, but it is. 95% of the cases are of sexual abuse.”

Before the pandemic, most of the children that are interviewed are between the ages of 7 to 11, however, the CAN Council is now seeing more children between the ages of 11 to 17. Archibald says the increase may be partly due to students returning to school.

Due to the increase in technology, Archibald explained that social media has negatively impacted sexual abuse towards younger children. It has been proven that the trauma will impact their entire life, Archibald says.

“The difference is, through our mental therapy, through trauma-focused therapy, there are tools that we have out there to help them,” she says. “You’re never going to take away the tragedy, you’re never going to take away the trauma that these children face, but we are going to teach them how to live with it and have happy, healthy relationships.”

For more information about the CAN Council’s programs and services, visit sccstopchildabuse.org.

Read more articles by Danielle Patrick.

Danielle Patrick is a Chesterfield resident who finds passion in writing about the Port Huron community. In addition to her work with The Keel, she is also a freelancer for Epicenter Mt. Pleasant. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Central Michigan University and is pursuing her master’s degree in poetry at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow her on Instagram @_daniellepatrick_.