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Staff report

Photos by Noelia Hatchell

In April, Bladen County residents actively support National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time dedicated to recognizing the vital roles that families and communities play in protecting children and reinforcing family resilience. As part of this month’s initiatives, the Bladen County Division of Social Services (BCDSS) organized a Child Abuse Prevention Walk. The event took place on April 18 at 10 a.m., starting at 208 McKay Street, Elizabethtown, with over 30 participants walking to raise public awareness about child abuse.

Additionally, BCDSS promotes the planting of pinwheel gardens each year. Bladen County and beyond residents are encouraged to join this movement by planting pinwheel gardens, which symbolize our collective hope for a nurturing and positive environment for all children. These gardens are more than just aesthetic enhancements; they are powerful symbols of our commitment to fostering safe and prosperous futures for our youngest generations.

Besides walks and pinwheel gardens, there are several other effective strategies that residents of Bladen County can adopt to help prevent child abuse:

– Education and Awareness: Educating parents, caregivers, teachers, and the public about child abuse, its signs, and its consequences is crucial. This includes teaching about healthy parenting practices and stress management techniques.

– Supporting Parents and Families: Providing resources and support to families can help alleviate stresses that may lead to abuse. This can include access to childcare, financial assistance, counseling services, and parenting classes.

Strengthening Economic Supports to Families: Policies that assist families in coping with economic challenges can diminish the risk factors associated with child abuse. This includes tax credits, unemployment benefits, and food assistance programs.

– Creating and Implementing Family-friendly Policies: Workplaces that offer flexible working hours, parental leave, and other family-friendly policies can reduce stress and enhance the overall well-being of families.

– Intervening to Lessen Immediate Risks or Harm: Immediate intervention is crucial when there are indications of abuse. This can involve law enforcement, child protective services, and crisis intervention teams. Call BCDSS for more information at: (910) 862-6800.

– Improving the Child Protection System: Reforming child protection systems to respond more effectively and sensitively to cases of child abuse can help prevent further harm and provide necessary support to children and families.

– Mandatory Reporting Laws: Ensuring that professionals who work with children are trained in identifying abuse and are legally obligated to report suspected cases can facilitate early detection and intervention.

– Community Involvement: Building strong, supportive community networks can help monitor the safety of children and provide support to families who might be at risk.

– Therapeutic Interventions for Abusers: Offering psychological help for individuals who have abused or are at risk of abusing can prevent further abuse. This includes anger management, substance abuse treatment, and mental health counseling.

– Promoting Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships (SSNRs): Programs that foster SSNRs between parents and children can reduce the incidence and severity of child abuse.

These measures require cooperation among various sectors of society, including families, communities, schools, health care providers, religious institutions, law enforcement, and the government. Effective prevention strategies necessitate both immediate actions and longer-term policies to create environments that protect children and support families.

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