Child Abuse Prevention
The leafless trees outside the Campus Center have been decorated with vibrant blue ribbons, marking once again that Central Oregon Community College is doing its part to recognize April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. On March 31, a kickoff event for Child Abuse Awareness was held in downtown Bend. According to Amy Howell, director of COCC’s early childhood education department, there was a large turnout for this event during which a proclamation was read about COCC’s intolerance for child abuse, a choir preformed children’s songs, blue ribbons were handed out and the significance of them was explained.
Possible Symptoms of Child Abuse (According to kids.cneter.org)
1. Nervousness around adults or one adult in particular.
2. Aggression, passivity or over compliance.
3. Sudden changes in personality.
4. Unable to stay awake or concentrate.
5. Not wanting to go home or to a particular place.
6. Low self-esteem
7. Unexplained bruises or injuries.
8. Poor hygiene.
Remember, abuse isn’t necessarily physical. Neglect and emotional abuse are still damaging to children and need to be reported.
COCC is distributing ribbons and helping to raise awareness by having posters and ribbons on display, but according to Howell, people can always do more to help protect children.
“I’d like to see more support… wearing the ribbons is nice, but it’s more important to take an active stance.” Said Howell. The biggest way you can be active about protecting children from abuse is to be diligent about looking for signs in the children around you, and then reporting any suspicions you have to welfare, the child abuse hotline, or the police. Workers in some professions, such as teachers, babysitters and day care instructors, are required by law to report any suspicions they may have that a child is being abused physically, sexually or mentally.
“I wish everyone saw themselves as a mandatory reporter,” said Howell, who says she is not only required by law, but by her own morals to report any signs of abuse she notices.
Another way to be active about protecting children is to take a Darkness To Light Class, which is offered at COCC throughout the year. The kids center website, kidscenter.org, states “The training program is appropriate to individuals and businesses that work with children and also those that want to respond to the epidemic nature of the problem and its impact at all levels of society.” The purpose is to educate people, whether it’s required for their career or not, on how to recognize signs of abuse, as well as what to do about it when they do.
“One of the best things people can do is attend Darkness to Light,” said Howell. Many students are showing their support in their own way.
“I try to get others to support it by wearing a blue ribbon and look up as much information as they can,” said COCC student Tara Wenstrom, who is a mother of a one year old boy, and is passionate about protecting children.
“I would never do that to my child, why would you do that?” Said Wenstrom. “It’s just not right to hit them.”
The first child abuse awareness and prevention month was observed nationwide in April of 1981, a year after the United States government announced a national child abuse awareness week, an attempt to raise awareness of a growing epidemic. According to childwelfare.gov, the awareness month is officially coordinated by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, and each year they distribute information on what part everyone can play to put an end to child suffering.
In the spirit of protecting children, April 11th through the 15th is “week of a young child.” This week is dedicated to celebrating children, and there will be several events which parents and community members are invited to attend. The week of the young child isn’t hosted by the college, but COCC’s Professor Amy Howell will be giving a speech at The Tower Theater on April 14th about the importance of play in a young child’s life.
“It helps people keep their kids safe if they feel part of the community.” Said Howell.
Students can show their support for this month of awareness and prevention by sporting blue ribbons. If you know of a child who is being abused, or suspect a child is being abused, you should report it immediately, either by calling 911 or the child abuse hotline, the number for which is 1-800-4-ACHILD.
Cedar Goslin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org