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Child abuse prevention month is focus of awareness campaign

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By Lisa King

How many times do you hear the phrase "children are our future?" Those words appear in all types of speeches, advertisements and even popular songs.

But the reality is that though many people hold that idea to be a noble concept, child abuse still exists.

April has been designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month, in the hopes that raising awareness about child abuse and neglect will encourage people to take time in their busy days to find ways to think about the idea in a more personal way.

The 17th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect was held last week in Atlanta with the theme, Focusing on the Future: Strengthening Families and Communities. Activities this month emphasize the need for prevention and comprehensive services.

Chrissy Hudson, local area manager of the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (OVEC) Head Start, said that the Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign, which is symbolized by blue ribbons and pinwheels, has shifted the focus of child abuse prevention.

"Now, instead of trying to fix it after it happens, we are trying to keep it from ever happening in the first place," she said.

Hudson said that various merchants around Shelbyville, including local restaurants, are participating by putting pinwheels in their shop windows to show their support for the awareness campaign.

Children's artwork is also on display at the public library and at Shelbyville City Hall, where pinwheels decorate flower boxes.

Judy Smith, office administrator at City Hall, said she supports the importance of child abuse prevention.

"I think it's a very important issue because children are our responsibility and are ours to take care of and nurture," she said. "Whenever I hear about a child being abused, it really upsets me a lot because they are so innocent and helpless and shouldn't be mistreated."

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 report estimated there were 1,530 child fatalities in 2006 resulting from child abuse, which is equal to 2 child fatalities per 100,000 children in the general population.

These are fatalities in which the child's death was caused by an injury resulting from abuse or neglect. Also, one or both parents were the most common offenders, responsible for 75.9 percent of those fatalities. 

At the beginning of the week, Shelby County Judge Rob Rothenburger visited Clear Creek Elementary School on Monday to proclaim child abuse prevention month.

"Child abuse and neglect is a complex and ongoing problem in our society, affecting many children in Shelby County...and can be reduced by making sure each family has the support they need to raise their children in a healthy environment," Rothenburger read from the proclamation.

The school is the site of one of the county's OVEC Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

"We are making a big deal out of it in Head Start programs to reach children at an age where a lot of abuse starts," Hudson said.

Local school children are also working on a quilt that will be hung in the Shelby County Detention Center.

Hudson said that location was chosen because many times the jail population contains inmates who have children who are potentially at risk for abuse.

"We want to make sure we don't neglect that segment," she said.

Employees at Seven County Services are also handing literature on the topic, which officials there has been well received by the public.

Literature on child abuse prevention will also be handed out at the upcoming Health and Safety Fair to be held at the Family Activity Center at Clear Creek Park.

 

  To report child abuse  

If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you should call the Kentucky Hotline at 800-752-6200. If you get no answer, call the USA National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-422-4453. The latter is a non-profit agency that can provide reporting numbers and has counselors who can provide referrals.