April to focus on child abuse awareness

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 3, 2006, there were 18,390 reports of child abuse and neglect in the state of Alabama. Of those, 84 were reported in Marengo County.

The startling fact is that child abuse is present at the national, state and even local level, though the general public tends to avoid recognizing its presence. Though it may not be a popular topic, lawmakers and those involved with combating the adverse effects of child abuse and neglect have declared April Child Abuse Prevention Month to bring attention to the subject generally swept under the rug.

Webb said the public must be aware of the problem in order for the department to act on cases involving abuse and neglect. She said the department doesn&8217;t go out into the community searching for cases of abuse and neglect, but rather it investigates instances that are reported.

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In order to alert individuals of the need to report instances, a presidential proclamation in 1982 declared April Child Abuse Prevention Month. Since that time the month of April has been used to hold activities to raise awareness. This year Gov. Bob Riley has helped the cause issuing a declaration supporting the month&8217;s work in Alabama.

Riley said child abuse and neglect prevention programs succeed because they bring in all aspects of a community, from businesses to faith organizations to government entities. He said the success of such programs depend on the organizations ability to get the community involved and aware of the program.

Webb said DHR tries to raise community concern throughout the month by inundating individuals with reminders that child abuse and neglect are very real concerns. She said the group does so through subtle reminders of their goal throughout the month.

Webb said the blue ribbon campaign was started in 1989 by Bonnie W. Finney in Virginia. She said Finney&8217;s grandchildren were abused leading to the death of her grandson, so Finney tied a blue ribbon on her car antenna and told her story when asked about it to bring people&8217;s attention to the subject.

Webb said much like Finney the ribbons are a way to get the community to notice there is something going on with which they need to get involved.

For more information on Child Abuse Prevention Month or to report instances of abuse or neglect call the Marengo County Department of Human Resources at 334-295-2000.