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DHR plans events to help prevent child abuse

April is child abuse prevention month and the Marengo County Department of Human Resources plans to do their part to bring abuse to prevent abuse in any way possible. Since 1982 child abuse and neglect awareness activities have been promoted across the country each April. This year will be no exception.

DHR Resource Development Supervisor Charlotte Webb said they plan to get the word out in several different ways.

“We will be putting information in some local church bulletins this week,” Webb said. “We are hoping to get the word out that way.”

Webb said they also plan to take part in another campaign that has gained popularity through the years.

“We also plan to start a blue ribbon campaign,” Webb said. “We also hope people will participate in that.”

The blue ribbon campaign began in 1989 in Virginia when Bonnie W. Finney tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her van. When asked about it she told people the story of the abuse of her grandchildren and the resulting death of her grandson. Since then, millions of people around the country have participated in blue ribbon campaigns by wearing the blue ribbons and getting involved in community activities to remind people that they can prevent child abuse.

The Marengo County DHR is asking everyone to wear a blue ribbon as a reminder to help prevent child abuse in our county by wearing a blue ribbon.

Child abuse is something that hits home in Alabama and Marengo County. Between Oct. 2003 and Sept. 2004 in Alabama there were 18,917 reports of child abuse and neglect investigated. In Marengo County 76 reports, involving 117 children were investigated.

The goal of child abuse prevention is simple-to stop child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place, sparing children and families’ emotional and physical trauma and decreasing the need for costly intervention and treatment services.

Why Does Child Abuse Occur?

While the causes of child abuse and neglect are not known, a significant body of research has identified several risk factors and protective factors associated with child abuse. Studies also have shown that when there are multiple risk factors present, the risk is greater. For example, lack of preparation and knowledge of critical issues surrounding parenting, financial or other environmental stressors, difficulty in relationships and a depression or other mental health problems can all lead to abusive or neglective behavior.

How is Child Abuse Prevented?

Prevention efforts build on family strengths. Through prevention activities such as parent education, home visitation and parent support groups, many families are able to find the support they need to stay together and care for their children in their homes and communities. Prevention efforts help parents develop their parenting skills, understand the benefits of nonviolent discipline techniques and understand and meet their child’s emotional, physical and developmental needs. Prevention programs also can help parents identify other needs they may have and offer assistance in getting that additional support.

Child Abuse Prevention Month is an opportunity to highlight the role we all can play to support parents and families. This month, and throughout the year, attention is best focused on prevention efforts that create healthier environments for their children and foster confident, positive parenting.

Marengo County DHR offers these warning signs for children who may be abused:

_ Children who are abused may have unexplained injuries.

_ Be frightened of parents and afraid to go home.

_ Be either overly complaint or demanding.

_ Be tired a lot, or complain of nightmares and not sleeping well.

_ Have poor hygiene.

_ Act overly mature or immature.

_ Have knowledge about sexual activity that is beyond what is normal for their age.

_ Have poor peer relationships.

_ Show a drastic change in school achievement or overall behavior patterns.

_ Miss school a lot.

Adults who abuse may:

_ Have conflicting, unconvincing or no explanation for a child’s injury.

_ Seem unconcerned for the child’s well being.

_ Describe the child in a negative way.

_ Use harsh physical discipline with the child.

_ Be overly protective of the child or severely limit the child’s contact with other children.

_ Depend on the child for emotional support.

_ Be secretive and isolated.

_ Seem apathetic or depressed.

_ Abuse alcohol or drugs.

For more information please contact the Marengo County Department of Human Resources at 334-295-2000.