While drug addiction is creating an increasing number of child abuse cases in Columbus, efforts to create awareness are also growing.
Nine separate programs — each with a different focus — are scheduled in Bartholomew County during April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
After a ceremonial kickoff Friday that included the planting of symbolic pinwheels, organizers hosted an educational forum Monday on discipline vs. punishment, said Raina Jones, Child Abuse Prevention Coordinator at Family Service Inc.
Up next will be the one-hour Kids on the Block presentation, planned at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bartholomew County Library Red Room, 536 Fifth St.
While the student-produced puppet show may seem to be children’s entertainment, serious issues ranging from preventing bullying to keeping kids out of difficult situations will be sensitively addressed, Jones said.
Those who organized the events for National Child Abuse Prevention Month said increasing narcotic use among parents has led to an increase in child abuse and neglect cases in Bartholomew County. The number was 32 cases 10 years ago, but was 258 last year. The 2015 total reflects 104 more cases than in 2014.
Programs conducted throughout the year are designed to help children in a variety of ways, from encouraging them to protect themselves from online predators to helping them attain a basic understanding of physical and sexual abuse, Jones said.
Another significant goal of National Child Abuse Prevention Month is to encourage adults to learn the signs of child abuse and promptly report it, she said.
That largely will be the focus of the upcoming Prevent Child Abuse Blue Day.
On April 15, those who support child abuse prevention efforts will be encouraged to wear blue clothing and accessories.
When others ask about the significance of the color, those questions will open up the door for a conversation about preventing local child abuse, Jones said.
But the highlight of the month-long series of observances will likely be the Adult Prom, which will be from 7 to 11 p.m. April 23 at The Commons.
Tickets have already sold out for the fundraiser, which could raise more than $35,000 for local child abuse prevention programs, including scholarships for parenting classes, Jones said.
Other upcoming activities include:
April 15: “Knit in the Park,” from 4 to 6 p.m. near the Mill Race Park amphitheater. Participants will discuss their child-rearing experiences while creating purple infant caps that will be provided to the Columbus Regional Hospital’s birthing center. The Doug Otto United Way Center, 1531 13th St., will serve as a rain location.
April 19: “Dine to Donate,” at Johnny Carino’s, 870 Creekview Drive. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of proceeds to child abuse prevention programs from those who tell their server they are there for the fundraiser.
April 25: “Stress and Parenting,” 6:30 p.m. in the Bartholomew County Library Red Room, 536 Fifth St. One-hour educational presentation and discussion for adults.
April 26: “Dine to Donate,” at Chipotle, 2260 National Road. Up to 50 percent of proceeds paid by customers who inform staff they are there for the fundraiser will go towards child abuse prevention programs.
Child maltreatment includes all types of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent or caregiver that results in harm or potential harm.
There are four common types of abuse.
- Physical abuse is the use of physical force, such as hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.
- Sexual abuse involves engaging a child in sexual acts.
- Emotional abuse refers to behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name calling, shaming, rejection, withholding love and threatening.
- Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, and access to medical care.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention