Columbus and its people are typically so bright and shiny that it’s hard to imagine that anything bad could happen here. When you look around at the beautiful people and the beautiful buildings, it’s unthinkable that something as ugly as child abuse and neglect exists.
Sadly, it’s more common than most would guess.
In 2012, there were 135 substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect in Bartholomew County. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 3 million children in the United States were victims of abuse or neglect in 2012.
“If even one child is abused or neglected, we have a problem,” said Casey Boilanger, Child Abuse Prevention program coordinator for Bartholomew, Jackson and Jennings counties. “Children are the future of this community. It’s essential to make sure that every child has an equal opportunity for healthy development and stable, nurturing interactions with caring adults.”
In an effort to educate the community about child abuse and neglect and ways to prevent maltreatment, the program is celebrating Child Abuse Prevention Month throughout April.
“Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors, in every interaction with children and families, is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development,” Boilanger said.
Throughout April, Child Abuse Prevention program will host several events, including planting of the pinwheel garden, blue days and an adult prom.
The planting of the pinwheels will begin at 8:30 a.m. April 8 on the Columbus City Hall lawn. The pinwheel is the council’s national symbol of prevention. It was chosen because it represents the happy, carefree childhood wanted for every child.
And to bring back those awesome memories of high school proms, the second CAP Adult Prom is 7 to 11 p.m. April 26 at the Factory 12 Event Loft. The goal of the prom is to raise awareness about child abuse and to raise money for local programming. The event, open to adults 21 and older, will include dancing, food, a cash bar and crowning of prom king and queen. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at www.capadultprom.com.
“Everyone was over the moon with our first year, so we are expecting an even better second year,” Boilanger said. “This is just one more way to start the conversation about keeping children safe. Education and early intervention are the keys to breaking the cycle of abuse. We are committed to preventing abuse and neglect before they happen.”
In honor of the CAP Adult Prom, I’m going to dig out my old high school prom photos and post them to my Facebook page. I think I also will play “Party Like It’s 1999” in my car for the entire month.
CAP also encourages Bartholomew County residents to take time in April to celebrate the children in our lives.
I know two little boys, who were undoubtedly the cutest ring bearers in history, whom I am going to spoil with Zaharakos ice cream and a trip to kidscommons. They most certainly make my life bright and shiny!
Paige Harden Langenderfer is a proud lifelong resident of Columbus. A former Republic newspaper reporter, Paige is now a freelance writer and public relations consultant. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.