Abuse prevention

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 11, 2008

Since 1989 people all over the state and nation have been donning blue ribbons during the month of April to observe Child Abuse Prevention Month, and this year the Marengo County Department of Human Resources is using the campaign as a time to spread the word about this very serious problem.

According to Charlotte Webb, service supervisor for Marengo County DHR, blue ribbons have been going up in the county for the last four years. But the campaign itself began in 1989 with a grandmother in Virginia who wanted a way to bring awareness to child abuse. Her own 3-year-old grandson died at the hands of his mother&8217;s abusive boyfriend.

Statewide during 2007, DHR investigated reports of child abuse and neglect involving 30,000 children. In Marengo County alone, DHR receives an average of 11 reports a month of child abuse, the majority of which is sexual abuse, Webb said.

Once a case is reported, DHR assigns a caseworker that works in conjunction with law enforcement and the district attorney&8217;s office to perform what is known as a multiple discipline approach, a tactic modeled after the Child Advocacy Center in Huntsville.

Some groups, such as law enforcement, doctor&8217;s offices, hospitals and schools are considered mandated reporting agencies, which are groups that are mandated by law to report child abuse.

But the majority of their reports come in from anonymous sources, Webb said.

According to DHR director John Marler, certainty is not required to make a report of child abuse.

Webb has been working with DHR for the last 30 years, and in that time, she said she has seen at least marginal improvement when it comes to awareness of this issue.