ATLANTA — In Georgia there were more than 50,000 cases investigated for child abuse and/or neglect last year. And tragically, many more cases never get reported. Child Abuse Prevention Month is April, and the Division of Family and Children Services is making a statement statewide, to bring about more awareness.
Throughout the month of April local DFCS offices in all of Georgia’s 159 counties will recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month by participating in “Pinwheels for Prevention.” To help raise local awareness, one colorful pinwheel will be placed on the grounds of county courthouses across the state for each abused or neglected child in the county.
DFCS administrators see the pinwheels as visually striking ways to help the community understand the prevalence of child abuse and the sheer number of children dealing with its consequences.
DFCS also hopes that through various month long community activities, people will be moved to get involved in some way to help prevent abuse to children.
“We really need the public to be our eyes and ears in helping to protect children,” said Isabel Blanco, deputy director, Division of Family and Children Services. “Many times concerns are brought to DFCS’ attention before family circumstances rise to the level of child abuse and neglect. When this happens, we are able to provide family support services to address the problems and, over time, bring stability to the family and safety to the child.”
What you can do:
Prevent Child Abuse America has developed the “Five Rs” which can help individuals better understand the role they can play in child abuse prevention.
• Raise the issue: Call or write your elected officials to educate them about issues in your community and the need for child abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment programs.
• Reach out to children and parents: Supporting kids and parents in your own family and in the extended community helps reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.
• Remember the risk factors: Child abuse and neglect occur in all segments of our society, but the risk factors are greater in families where parents abuse alcohol or drugs, are isolated from their families or communities, have difficulty controlling their anger or stress, appear uninterested in the care of their children, and have mounting personal problems.
• Recognize the warning signs: Some of the warning signs include: children who are overly aggressive, children who are often hungry, children who have mysterious or unexplainable bruises, children who are unsupervised or left home alone frequently, children who aren’t adequately dressed for the weather, children who have low self-esteem, children who show interest in sex that’s not appropriate for his or her age.
• Report suspected abuse or neglect: If a person suspects a child is being abused, report it to the county DFCS office or your local police department.