Communities promote child abuse prevention, awareness

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published April 6, 2016

Mohd Shahrizan Hussin/Shutterstock

Advertisement

OAKLAND COUNTY — Some statistics you can’t run away from. 

Each year, more than 1,540 children in Michigan die from neglect and abuse, according to www.michigan.gov. 

Since 1985, the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund has promoted the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.

Various communities in Oakland County recently acknowledged the month with proclamations requested by nonprofit organization CARE House of Oakland County.

CARE House Volunteer Services Director Chad Ozias said the proclamations raise awareness.

“Being able to spread awareness throughout the entire county is a way to help promote child abuse prevention,” Ozias said. “We work directly with local law enforcement and jurisdictions in the county.”

Ozias added that the prevention work CARE House performs includes different training programs for community members.

In the state, 52 professions are mandated reporters, meaning they are mandated by law to report to authorities if they suspect child abuse. Some of those professions include early childhood professionals, doctors, social workers and teachers.

CARE House Community Outreach Manager Miriana Milo said the organization offers other tools too, such as a technology program that helps parents protect their children online.

Another outreach tool is the Stewards of Children program, which helps parents and caretakers recognize the signs and symptoms of child abuse. 

“That is the difficult part about children who are abused. They can go from being perfectly normal, sweet and lovely, and want to please everyone (to) children who are cutting, self-medicating, drinking,” Milo said.

Other signs of abuse include older children or teenagers who were once into fashion no longer caring how they look, a change in friends, having nightmares and/or a lack of sleep, and more.

For younger children, signs of abuse might be losing previously acquired potty training skills and regressing back to thumb sucking.

“You would not look for one single sign,” Milo said. “It would be a cluster of behaviors signifying a huge change that was traumatic or stressful.”

Ozias added that abuse could also take on the form of a student’s grades dropping.

“It’s hard to worry about your algebra homework when you’re worried about someone in your home doing something to you,” he said.

Milo agreed.

“Being in survival mode sort of trumps geography,” she said.

To schedule training for the Stewards of Children program, contact Milo at (248) 332-7173 or at mmilo@carehouse.org.

At 11 a.m. April 19, all are invited to the eighth annual Prevention Awareness Day rally in Lansing. The event includes a procession and pinwheel garden planting to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month. The pinwheel is a nationally known symbol for child abuse and neglect prevention, according to michigan.gov. The pinwheel also is a symbol that all children have the right to grow within a safe and caring environment.

Prevention Awareness Day will be held at the steps of the state Capitol, 100 N. Capitol Ave. in downtown Lansing; or inside the rotunda in case of bad weather.

The event will feature speakers and entertainment.

In concurrence with Prevention Awareness Day, the Children’s Trust Fund will host Legislative Education Day, which allows organizations and individuals to meet with legislators to discuss child abuse and neglect prevention needs, according to a press release.

Milo said the day is “kind of a big to-do.”

She added that this year, she and others will speak to elected officials about making child abuse prevention measures mandated in schools through sex education classes, per Erin’s Law.

“That would be our message to elected officials,” she said.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed Erin’s Law several years ago to ensure that more protections for sexually abused children are in place, according to michigan.gov.

The law, named after sexual abuse survivor Erin Merryn, of Illinois, allows schools to provide a program to educate and offer resources for students, staff and parents regarding the warning signs of sexual abuse, according to michigan.gov. Resources and counseling for children impacted are also included. 

As of press time, 26 states had passed Erin’s Law, according to www.erinslaw.org.

Snyder said in a state proclamation that unemployment, poverty, parental drug and alcohol abuse, stress, social isolation, and violent communities are risk factors for child maltreatment.

“Promoting family functioning/resiliency, social support systems, concrete supports, nurturing and attachment, and knowledge of parenting/child development are all known protective factors which prevent child maltreatment and help to strengthen families,” he said.

For more information, go to www.carehouse.org.

Advertisement