April declared Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month
If you see something, say something.
That is the message from Dayton community partners who came together to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect, as well as supply tools and tips to families in need. In an event at CARE House, these agencies and organizations highlighted the problem, the work being done to keep children safe and restore families, and new initiatives to expand help into the community.
Walking into to CARE House, pinwheels spun wildly in the wind. They are the national symbol for child abuse prevention. “By its very nature the pinwheel connotes whimsy and childlike notions,” says Libby Nicholson, director of CARE House. “In essence, the pinwheel has come to serve as the reminder as the happy, carefree childhoods we want for all children.”
But sadly, many Dayton area children do not have a happy or carefree existence. “We file a case of child abuse or neglect for prosecution, on average, every week,” says Mat Heck, Montgomery County prosecutor. “Every 10 seconds, there is a report of child abuse somewhere in the country. That’s more than 3 million reports every year. Between 4 and 5 children die each and every day from abuse or neglect.”
“Each year, your local Children Services Agency investigates more than 3,000 allegations of abuse or neglect,” says Jewell Good, Children Services director for Montgomery County Job and Family Services. “I see this epidemic creating orphans, forcing grandparents to raise grandchildren and increasing the number of children in need of adoptive homes. Caseworkers see households where there is no food, where the children's beds have been sold so parents could have money for drugs and where children are raising each other while parents are absent under the influence of their addiction.”
“Here in our local community, many families struggle with the ravages of heroin,” says Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of the Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services board. “In the past five years, ADAMHS has served 39 opiate dependent youngsters under the age of 18 – one of them was only 8 years old.”
That is why all these groups come together – in the hopes that no child has to suffer abuse or neglect again.
Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge issued a proclamation declaring April 2016 as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month. Thanks to support form the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, signs will be up all month in the Dayton Mall to remind people to report abuse and neglect to 224-KIDS.
Montgomery County Children Services will run a radio awareness campaign during the month of April. This campaign will highlight four areas impacting children: safe sleep for infants, internet safety, not a single drop - encouraging pregnant women to avoid alcohol consumption throughout their pregnancy - and, new this year, heroin.
Montgomery County prosecutor, Mat Heck, also announced two generous partnerships that will raise awareness and help families. Key Ads will feature “Hug me, don’t hit me” billboards across the city, along with the number to call to report abuse or neglect. Evenflo donated hundreds of car seats and strollers for families in need, to be distributed through social service agencies across the county.
“We come together today as a community, committed to ending the cycle of violence, abuse and all kinds of child mistreatment,” says Nicholson. “While every month should be about protecting children, let us take this declared month of opportunity to be that shining beacon of light for our children in need.”
About CARE House
Established in 1999, CARE House is the Montgomery County children’s advocacy center. It brings together law enforcement, child protection services, prosecution, mental health experts, medical professionals and victim advocates into a centralized location with a child-focused approach to reduce the trauma children of abuse or neglect experience during the investigation. It serves more than 600 children a year, often the worst of the nearly 5,000 cases of abuse reported in Montgomery County each year. To learn more about CARE House please visit www.thecarehouse.org.
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