April is National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, nationally designated since 1983. It is a time for communities to recommit to developing and implementing solutions to prevent family violence and the consequences if they do not. Once again, the community’s partnership is pleased to hold several events during the month to support the year round efforts in fighting child abuse and neglect including:
To start the month, the annual Children’s Memorial Flag Raising was held April 2nd at the Allen County Courthouse in a national remembrance of children who have died due to family violence. This solemn ceremony offers an opportunity for the entire community to acknowledge the terrible losses we have suffered and renew our commitment to the safety of children across our community.
On April 9th at 9:00 a.m. at Lima Memorial Hospital, the annual Pinwheels for Prevention Program will be held. At this event, participants will plant a pinwheel in the ground, with each pinwheel representing one of the 928 reports of alleged child abuse and neglect received in Allen County during 2012. This number of reports is an increase of 62% from the number received in 2008. There is no coincidence that the reports of child maltreatment have increased as families’ economic situations have worsened. Our community’s safety net is being tasked to do much more with much less.
Once again, we have planned a whole month of activities to increase the community’s awareness of the growing instances of child maltreatment and how to combat it. Activities include:
•Training for people interested in becoming foster parents with Allen County Children Services.
•Programs for students in local elementary schools.
•“Choose Your Partner Carefully…” parenting classes.
•The statewide Wear Blue Day on April 10.
•National Spank Out Day.
•The Annual CASA/GAL Walk.
There’s also much more. Please see the Allen County Children Services website, www.allencsb.com, or the Partnership for Violence Free Families website, www.pvff.org.
Also, Allen County’s fourth Prescription Medication Collection Day will be held from 9 a.m. to noon April 20th at Allen County Children Services and from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Rays Supermarkets at 890 S. Cable Road and 2100 Harding Highway. The first three collection days have resulted in the collection and destruction of more than $1 million worth of unused and expired medications from people’s homes.
But simply attending a memorial or community event is not enough. As citizens and human beings, we are compelled to protect the most vulnerable among us, the community’s most precious resource.
Originally printed a few years ago and expanded upon since, here are some simple steps you can take to help prevent abuse and neglect in our community:
Talk seriously about child abuse, don’t joke about it. Immediately report suspected abuse to your county child protective services agency. If you are not sure if you should call, err on the side of caution and call. Our highly trained staff will gather as much information as possible and make an informed decision as to intervening in a family’s life. In Allen County, you can call 419-227-8590 to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Outside of Allen County, you can call the state of Ohio’s new toll free hotline number at 1-855-642-4453 which will link you with the appropriate agency to take your report.
Practice positive parenting styles. Reinforce nonviolent problem-solving, compassion and self-control. Ask yourself what is the message a child receives when physically struck for doing something wrong?
Question the glorification of violence in sports, the media and entertainment.
If you have trouble providing basic food, clothing or shelter seek assistance from community agencies.
Serve as an example in your neighborhood. Instill compassion and humane values in children and teens by showing you value people, animals and the environment.
Break the cycle of violence in your own life. If child abuse has been a part of your history, seek professional counseling.
Use your voice. Speak out or vote on issues that improve the quality of life for children and families. Advocate for the restoration of funding levels for your community safety net services. Those services include: behavioral health services, home visitation, parenting programs, drug and alcohol assessment and counseling, support groups, etc.
Be active in your community. Volunteer or contribute to organizations that protect children and promote family well being. In Allen County, there is a vibrant community safety net with many partners that would welcome your time and energy.
Simply care. Make sure you know where your child is at all times. Ensure that he or she attends school regularly and receives proper medical attention.
Remember: Vigilance against abuse and neglect should not end April 30th.