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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

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By The Staff

Children’s and Young Adult Services

Henry County Public Library

74,159 is a big number. It’s the number of reported cases of child abuse in the state of Kentucky during 2008. Of those, 405 reported cases occurred in Henry County. Child abuse is defined as any injury or pattern of injuries to a child that is non-accidental. Child abuse includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as neglect, which is the failure of a parent or guardian to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education or supervision for a child. There is no easy answer to the question of why child abuse occurs, but many factors are involved, including lack of parenting knowledge, drug or alcohol abuse, and marital and financial crises within a family.

In the early 1980s, after recognizing the increasing rate at which children continued to be abused despite child safety and welfare laws, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives designated the week of June 6-12, 1982 as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week. The following year, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Child Abuse Prevention Month is coordinated by the Office of Child Abuse and Neglect, who provides updated statistics on child abuse, while awareness and prevention activities are promoted all across the country.

In 1989, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse began after a Virginia grandmother, Bonnie Finney of Portsmouth, Virginia, tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her vehicle in tribute to her grandson, Michael Dickenson, who died as a result of child abuse. That single ribbon began a flurry of others in a national effort to stop child abuse by increasing a public awareness of the problem.

There are many indicators of child abuse including burns, bruises, broken bones, a fear of physical contact and frequent absences from school. If you suspect a child is a victim of abuse, it is your responsibility to report it — failure to do so is a class B misdemeanor and could lead to a fine or jail time. To report child abuse or neglect call the Child Abuse Report hotline at 1-800-752-6200 or the local Department of Community Based Services confidential reporting number at 1-888-403-5090.

For more information on the indications of child abuse, how to report suspected cases of abuse, and state prevention programs, you can contact Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky at www.pcaky.org. Located in Lexington, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky strives to increase public awareness and create prevention programs by strengthening families and engaging communities through programs such as C.A.R.E. and Partners in Prevention. 1-800-CHILDREN is their confidential, statewide helpline. The helpline, manned 24-hours a day, seven days a week, is available for parents and caregivers to call for support, encouragement, and information about available local resources. Callers can talk about a variety of concerns, including discipline, how to handle an out of control child, caring for a new baby, and the signs of abuse and neglect. They receive more than 200 calls each month and provide each caller with valuable information on improving the lives of children by preventing child abuse.

Insuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children prevents child abuse and neglect. Research shows that promoting five important factors present in healthy families is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse. These factors are: Nurturing and attachment, Knowledge of parenting as well as child and youth development, parental resilience, social connection and concrete support for parents. The entire community’s involvement in promoting the five protective factors, even in small ways, such as positive interactions with families, is the best thing our community can do to strengthen families and prevent child abuse.

The Henry County CARE Team would like to invite you to our own child abuse prevention event of Celebration KIDS from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 25, at New Castle Elementary School. This event highlights the excitement of children through games, prizes, music, dancing, inflatable fun, great door prizes and much more! We also showcase the many services available in our community as well as more information on the detection and prevention of child abuse.

For more information about the work of the Henry County CARE Team, please contact our office at (502) 878-0001. You can also make plans to attend our monthly coalition meetings held on the second Wednesday of each month at the Henry County Public Library. The meetings are held at NOON and lunch is provided, however, we do request an RSVP and a minimal monetary donation or $3 to help off-set the cost of the meal. We hope that you will consider joining the “Team!”

E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com.