April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month, advocacy events announced

Press release from Buncombe County Health and Human Services:

Child Abuse Prevention is a Community Responsibility

Buncombe County, N.C. – The month of April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month.  In 2016, Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) received over 4,820 reports of child abuse or neglect.  Over 68% of the children found to be abused or neglected were under the age of six.  To build a stronger future, it is critical that we all realize the role that we have in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Child abuse and neglect can happen as a result of many factors such as trauma, stress, poverty, substance use, or developmental issues. In Buncombe County, we experience a large number of children in protective custody due to a caregiver’s substance misuse issue.  This can be due to addiction to pain medication and other highly addictive substances such as heroin. This dangerous trend will show up in our classrooms, neighborhoods, hospitals, and families costing us the unrealized potential of our children.

BCHHS Social Work Director, Tammy Shook, wants to remind the community that we all have a role to play in the prevention of abuse and neglect saying, “We want to strengthen individuals and families. At the individual level, this can mean maintaining a healthy lifestyle before ever becoming pregnant and surrounding yourself with safe and supportive people. As a community, we must ensure that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to safely care for their children. When we help parents understand how to be a nurturing and stable parent, it strengthens the bond between parent and child. By helping parents to understand safe sleep basics and how to navigate child development and age appropriate discipline, we can also reduce the chances of injury, abuse or neglect. Research shows that boosting these protective factors can decrease the chances for abuse and neglect.”

Report Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect:

As a resident of North Carolina, you are a mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect. If you have concerns regarding child abuse or neglect, we rely on you to make a report. For some children in our community, especially those too young to talk, you are the voice for these children. If you have a concern, you have a mandated responsibility to call. Your information is confidential and you can be assured that you did the right thing for that caregiver and their child. That number is 250-5900.

Pinwheel Garden & Proclamation:

We are proud to partner with the Mountain Child Advocacy Center (MCAC) to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect in our community.  BCHHS joins the Child Advocacy Center in inviting the public to the Pinwheel Garden on April 4th at 4:00 p.m. The Pinwheel Garden will be planted at the Energy Loop Sculpture at 200 College Street. The pinwheel is a symbol of the whimsical childhood that all children deserve. At this event, the Buncombe County Commissioners, child welfare advocates and the public will come together to renew our shared commitment to the protection of the most vulnerable members of our community- our children.

For more information on the events surrounding Child Abuse Awareness Month, visit the Mountain Child Advocacy Center’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mtncac. Their offices can be reached at (828) 213-9824.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, contact Buncombe County Child Protective Services at (828) 250-5900. More information on Child Protective Services can be found at www.buncombecounty.org/dss.

About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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