Saturday, 07 April 2018 11:57

OP ED: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and You Can Make a Difference

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OP ED: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and You Can Make a Difference Supplied photo

The Child Protection Advisory Council seeks to engage community members and serve as a positive force in establishing partnerships between public and private agencies that serve overburdened families.

We recognize that all citizens have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable children and youth. You will see "Pinwheels for Prevention" gardens across Oswego County to raise awareness of child abuse in observance of Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month in April. Shining in the sun, these pinwheels represent a bright future for our children and our community. We want all children to live in stable, loving, and stimulating environments - at home, in school and in the community.

The number of reports received by the New York State Central Registry in Albany alleging a child to be abused or neglected in Oswego County has increased by 61 percent over the last decade. Oswego County Department of Social Services received 3,243 reports of child abuse in 2017. The rate per 1,000 children of reports in Oswego County is 38.3 which is more than double the state rate of 16.2. Over half of the families who are brought to the attention of our Child Protective Services investigators are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Many families are impoverished, many are challenged by mental illness or other disabling conditions.

The Department of Social Services responds to reports of child maltreatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And they are not alone in this critical mission. Our multi-disciplinary team, coordinated by our Child Advocacy Center, tackles the most serious of cases. Law enforcement officers stand by our side and our District Attorney is relentless in pursuing prosecution of those who harm our children. Doctors are generous in their time with our children and in testifying in court. School districts across the county are strong partners with us in identifying and working collaboratively to keep our children safe.

But most important are the watchful eyes of our community. Oswego County is compassionate and more aware than ever that it takes each one of us to protect our most vulnerable children. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the New York State Central Registry at 1-800-342-3720. If you know a family that is overburdened, reach out to them. If you need information on resources available in our community, call 2-1-1; an incredible source supported by our United Way of Greater Oswego County. Together we can do what none of us can do alone.

Sincerely,

Geri Geitner,

Chair of the Child Protection Advisory Council,
Director of Student Support Services at Fulton City School District

Mary-Margaret Pekow,

Vice Chair of the Child Protection Advisory Council,
Executive Director of Catholic Charities

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