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April 9, 2014

SAFEGUARDING OUR FUTURE: Communities recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month

More than 800 gather at Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center

CLARKSVILLE — Community organizations and public servants came together Tuesday in Louisville and Southern Indiana to recognize those who are fighting to put an end to child abuse.

Outside the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center in Clarksville, more than 800 blue pinwheels, the national symbol for child abuse prevention, lined the walkway from the parking lot to the building’s entrance. Inside, Angie Graf, a community liaison with Open Door Youth Services, emceed a program on child abuse prevention in recognition of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The message, as sung to the audience in the auditorium by three local girls, was simple: “Stop the hurt before it starts.”

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan was on hand to present a proclamation from the city commending the workers who strive to put an end to child abuse.

“I think they do a super job with the blue pinwheel,” Gahan said. “They’ve made this a very positive event. The light shines on the people that are doing the good work, and the good will that comes from the good work. So, any time you have an opportunity to celebrate a group of people that have come to the rescue of these folks in need, that’s a great thing.”

Neglect and abuse are still real problems in Clark and Floyd counties, but the occurrences seem to be going down in recent years, according to statistics provided by the Indiana Youth Institute.

In Clark County, there were 490 cases of neglect substantiated by the county’s Department of Child Services in 2009. In 2011, that number fell to 361 and dropped to 204 in 2012. Sexual abuse cases and physical abuse cases reduced in a similar fashion over that time.

In Floyd County, there were 172 substantiated cases of neglect in 2009 and 114 in 2011. However, the number crept back up to 157 in 2012. Shay Grahn, the director of Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, in Clark County, doesn’t know what’s driving the changes in the numbers, but she hopes to keep pushing them down by getting more of the community involved in protecting children.

CASA volunteers act as the advocates for abused and neglected children whose cases appear in Clark Circuit Court No. 4. CASA volunteers are sworn officers of the court, and have access to confidential information like medical records to help make sure the child’s side of the story is told in cases of abuse and neglect.

CASA will hold a seminar on detecting and reporting child abuse at the Jeffersonville Public Library at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

“I still think there’s a lot of abuse and neglect going on,” Grahn said. “It’s part of the reason I wanted to have this [seminar] open to the public.”

The event included a “candlelight” vigil (the candles were battery operated), a video presentation of public servants and organizations that support child abuse prevention, and a prayer.

KOSAIR TACKLES CHILD ABUSE

Kosair Charities and Family & Children’s Place teamed with Mayor Greg Fischer’s office for a Rally to End Child Abuse at the foot of the Kentucky side of the Big Four Bridge.

Kosair Chairman Jerry Ward declared that it was Kosair’s goal to eradicate child abuse in Jefferson County by 2023.

Child abuse is widespread in Jefferson County, according to statistics provided by Face It, an organization that brings awareness to child abuse.

More than 11,000 cases of suspected child abuse or neglect were made to child protection services in 2012, and more than 5,000 investigations were conducted. About 2,600 children were victims of child abuse or neglect.

 

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Sierra Proctor, 13, New Albany, looks through a clothing rack at the Clarksville Salvation Army Thrift Store along Little League Boulevard on Wednesday morning. Students enrolled in any level of schooling in Floyd, Clark, Washington, and Scott counties were eligible for the back-to-school clothing giveaway.

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