Speaking Monday at an event to raise awareness about child abuse, Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté brought a prop to prove his point.
“This is an extension cord,” Forté says. “People actually get so-called ‘disciplined’ with extension cords. Some of the people I was raised with, they still think it’s OK.”
That’s a problem, Forté says. When abuse is normalized, kids who were abused grow up to be abusers.
“If I beat you with this and I do other things with this over and over again, I can predict the outcome,” says Forté. “I can write the end of that story.”
He’s often cited domestic violence as the root cause for the uptick in homicides in the city.
Cornerstones of Care organized the event to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Forté says frustratingly little progress has been made during his 31 years on the force.
“We’ll talk about it when something happens, when you say a 2-year-old or a 6-year-old (has died). But guess what? It’ll be business as usual,” Forté says.
Forté says it’s a form of abuse and neglect when a young child has access to a loaded gun.
Chiming in, Kansas City Mayor Sly James added that verbal abuse can be just as damaging developmentally.
“That’s when we need to step up. It’s not always comfortable, but it still needs to be done. If we don’t do it, who’s going to?” James says. “I’d rather make a mistake and interfere a little bit than miss an opportunity to protect a child.”
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.