April showers bring May flowers and it also brings the St. Stephen’s Community House staff together to dress in shades of blue.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. During the month, our staff will be seen wearing blue clothing and distributing blue ribbons. During the month, many Settlement Houses, child welfare and other social service agencies work with families we serve to bring awareness, education, and support to help prevent child abuse, neglect and to promote the safety and well-being of children and their families we work with.
We are living in stressful times. While the economy has gotten better for some, many people in our city are still struggling to provide basic needs such as food, housing, and medical care. As families feel the daily pressures of life, cases of child abuse and neglect rise. The heroin and the opioid epidemic are also impacting the neglect and abuse of children.
Child abuse can be physical, sexual, and emotional or neglect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, child maltreatment is, “Any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, the potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.” The CDC also reports that 1 in 4 children are abused or neglected at some point in their lives.
The child welfare league of America reported in 2016, there were 23,635 reported victims of abuse or neglect in Ohio. What this number does not account for are the many children who are still in unsafe situations who may still be abused or neglected.
If you see something, say something. All employees of St. Stephen’s Community House are mandated by law to report abuse. There are a number of ways St. Stephen’s Community House helps. One way we help to strengthen families and provide support is through our Family to Family program in partnership with Franklin County Children Services. We also provide afterschool programs, child care, home visiting, and parenting classes. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Franklin County Children Services on the 24-hour hotline (614) 229-7000.
Written by Tommy Ferguson. Tommy is the Education Coordinator in the Youth Services Department. Mr. Ferguson coordinates all educational programming, including our Summer STEM camp, Project L.I.N.K, and after-school tutoring.