By Reann Huber
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month here in Georgia and Morgan County is ensuring to highlight what the community can do to provide children with a safe childhood through several community events and initiatives. Majority of child abuse cases begin from situations that are preventable, especially when there is a strong, supporting community. Child Abuse Prevention Month is about bringing together the community and getting them to be well informed to create a better support system. To start off the month, Morgan County will hold its third annual Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation and Pinwheel Ceremony on April 7 at 10 a.m. on the front lawn of the Department of Family and Children Services. It is an initiative of the Prevent Child Abuse Morgan Council (PCA Morgan) to bring awareness of the power of prevention and this is just the start of many initiatives taken this month to end child abuse.
Events like the pinwheel ceremony are meant to be a time to celebrate what the community is doing to ensure the safety of the children and keeping families strong. A key part of Morgan County Family Connection’s mission is ensuring that all are aware of the issues facing children and families in the community, as well.
With that being said, Georgia has not done well with the prevention of child abuse in recent years. According to the National KIDS Count Data Center, Georgia has fallen in the bottom 10% on national indicators related to the overall well-being of children and families in the past four years. Further analysis has shown that Morgan County had 69 substantiated incidents of child abuse and/or neglect cases in 2014, which is unfortunately a 137% increase from substantiated cases in 2013. Morgan County Family Connection and PCA Morgan are working together to provide initiatives and work towards solutions to child abuse, including Morgan County First Steps Program, Parent Cafes, and Local Interagency Planning Team. They are working together to let people know that promoting the healthy development of children and families is the best way to prevent abuse.
Among other initiatives being taken this month are allowing children to color pinwheel coloring sheets in restaurants and hanging them up. Other events include the Baby Literacy Expo on April 2 at MCES. Representative Dave Belton will speak at the April 12 Collaborative Partners’ meeting to give updates on bills focused on improving the results for children and families. Lastly, Head Start & Early Head Start will be putting on two events both held at First United Methodist Church in Madison. The first is a parent café on April 13 at 10 a.m. and the second is the 2016 Parent Conference on April 29 at 8 a.m. Family Connection and PCA Morgan also ask everyone to wear blue on April 8 to show support in promoting strong families and child development. They welcome everyone to share pictures on the Morgan County Family Connection Facebook page with the hashtag #pcamorgan. These two organizations strive to bring the community together and increase the support of child abuse prevention. For those wanting more information on any events or on Family Connection and PCA Morgan, they are welcome to contact Velde T. Hardy, Coordinator, at (706) 343-5907.