To the Editor:
For almost 20 years I have found myself involved in the concern of child abuse either professionally or in some volunteer capacity. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and though it’s almost over it provides an opportunity for each of us to consider our own role in preventing the mistreatment of children in our own community. There is an African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I am convinced that in the same spirit it takes a community to prevent child abuse.
Years of research have shown that there is no one “cause” for child mistreatment. It would be so much easier to address if there were. Unfortunately, a variety of risk factors that affect the child, parent, family and community can all contribute to the likelihood of abuse. Providing support for families at risk is one strategy for prevention. This support can come from a formal program or from a caring family member, neighbor or friend.
Unfortunately, there are times when the only option to protect the child is for an agency to intervene. This can come from the Department of Social Services or one of our local law enforcement agencies. The priority always remains on the safety and care of the child.
We are fortunate to have so many professionals in our community who work to protect and help children. I’d like to say “Thank You” to social service workers, guardian ad litems, law enforcement officers and those who work in our court system; teachers, school counselors and social workers and all other employees of the school system and private schools; child care providers, preschool and Head Start teachers; mental health professionals, doctors, nurses and other members of the medical community; professionals in non-profits such as KARE and REACH, along with those who contribute to the funding of these agencies. I don’t want to leave out all the volunteers who reach out to children and youth through faith communities, extracurricular activities, sports programs and clubs; and the grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles and other extended family members who care about children.
Every child deserves a happy childhood and we must work together as a community to reach that goal.
Allison Best-Teague, chairperson
Haywood County Community Child Protection Team