Blue ribbons promote child abuse awarness

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 13, 2006

During April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Marengo County Department of Human Resources places blue ribbons throughout the county in their effort to raise awareness about this problem.

There are also several other programs conducted through the department to educate people on the warning signs and long-term effects of child abuse.

But, sometimes during the education process, the public loses sight of how important their role is in child abuse prevention.

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John B. Marler III, Director of the Marengo County Department of Human Resources, said it is crucial for citizens to read the warning signs of child abuse and inform the proper authorities.

“If there is a reasonable suspicion that a child is being abused or neglected, you should make a report,” Marler said. “Our child welfare staff works closely with law enforcement officials and with mandated reporters such as teachers, doctors and other medical personnel in investigating these reports.”

Alabama DHR Commissioner Page Walley said their workers rely heavily on input from the community to locate children in need and look into reports.

“We count on our community partners to alert us when there is a possible threat to a child’s well-being,” Walley said. “Our protective service workers are conscientious professionals who investigate these reports with the child’s safety as their top priority.”

In Alabama during the fiscal year 2005, the Department of Human Resources investigated 19,000 reports of child abuse and neglect.

The investigations were prompted by reports from community partners who notified DHR of possible threats to the health and safety of children.

Sometimes, Marler said, complications arise when people question how the reports were filed. But, he said, information about cases, including who made the initial call, was confidential.

“In some cases, the protective service worker encounters an angry parent or relative who demands to know who reported the suspected abuse or neglect to DHR,” Marler said. “Privacy laws prohibit the release of information about specific cases, including the name of the person who made the report.”

To report suspected abuse or neglect in Marengo County, contact the Department of Human Resources at (334) 295-2000 or your local law enforcement office.