Child abuse prevention month brings awareness, opportunity to educate parents

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78 ABW/PA
National child abuse pre-vention month is not just about acknowledging it is an issue, but about teaching the community to carry the burden of prevention.

"For years, child abuse professionals have been preaching awareness. What I want is for people to start accepting some personal responsibility and not just to call and notify the responsible authorities such as the police or family services. The professionals alone can't do it," said Linda Towry, family advocacy outreach manager.

She said the old African proverb "It takes a whole village to raise child," illustrates the importance of each community member taking an active role in raising children and preventing children from being abused.

"We (at Life Skills) just want to remind members of our community how important our children are and how much they need our care and guidance," said Mary Hodgkins, family advocacy officer.

Life Skills team members agreed the month is not just about preventing children from being abused, it is also about taking the time to acknowledge parents doing a good job dealing with the stresses of life and still shining in their role as a mother or father.

"We want people to walk up to a good parent and say thank you," Ms. Hodgkins said.

During the observation of child abuse prevention month, there is an Air Force-wide effort to bring attention to Shaken Baby Syndrome, Ms. Towry said.

She said the Air Force focuses much of their parent education program on parents of children under 36 months of age because children in this age group are most likely to die from child abuse according to statistics.

Some of the programs available through the parent education program to help Air Force parents beat the statistics through learning good parenting skills are Dad's 101, a class for first time dads where a dad teaches them to help with both care of the baby and care of the expectant mother before and after the birth of the child; 1-2-3 Magic, a class to help parents effectively discipline; and a social support group, where moms bring their children to play and share experiences and advice with one another, said Sharon Lowe, family advocacy program assistant.

Ms. Lowe said Dad's 101 class was important because males between the ages of 18-35 are most likely to shake a baby according to statistics.

During Dad's 101, fathers learn how to hold, feed and nurture the new addition to their family, she said.

"We are trying to teach them it's OK to ask for help, information and resources," Ms. Towry said.

Other services available through the new parent support program include home visits by a registered nurse or social worker, free books, CDs, calendars and other materials to help parents plan for the arrival of their new born, infant CPR and safety and Passport to Parenthood and Bundles for Babies.

Throughout the month, the Robins community will be joining with the local community for events to help raise awareness and help parents and future parents gain valuable parenting skills.

"We are doing it in partnership with the community, the reason being the vast majority of our military families live off-base now and if we are going to reach them, we need to get off base too," Ms. Towry said.

Community events during the observation of child abuse prevention month:

April 14 - Child Safety Day will be held at Wal-Mart on Booth Road from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the event, Houston County Safe Kids will be conducting car seat checks, the Warner Robins Fire Department and Police Department will be on hand.

April 19 - An Internet safety forum will be sponsored by the Houston County Sheriff's Department Juvenile Division at Bonaire Middle School at 6:30 p.m.

April 23 - Blue Ribbon Night will be held at Cheddar's Casual Cafe in Warner Robins from 5 to 9 p.m. and at Angelina's Italian Garden Café in Perry from 5 to 9 p.m. The event will feature celebrity servers, who will spread the prevention message and collect funds to support prevention efforts in Houston County.

April 28 - A bowling tournament will be held at Gold Cup Bowling Center in Warner Robins from 2 to 4 p.m. The event is held in honor of The Rainbow House Children's Resource Center and 21 years of keeping children safe. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the center.

April 28 - 1-2-3 Magic, a seminar for effective discipline for children ages two through 12 will be held at the Houston Pavilion from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a lunch break from noon to 1:30 p.m.