COLUMBUS – Come support the safety and wellbeing of children in our community by joining in the annual Polk County Child Abuse Prevention Walk from 4 to 6 p.m., Friday, April 13 at Sterns Park in Columbus.
Sponsored by the Polk County Community Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team, the event also will feature hot dogs, lawn games, a bouncy house, music, information, T-shirt giveaways and other prizes – all for free.
The Polk County Community Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team is an interdisciplinary group of community representatives who meet to promote a community-wide approach to the problems of child abuse and neglect. Local child abuse and neglect cases are reviewed to help identify deficiencies in the child protection system and resources needed to help prevent further abuse and neglect.
With April being National Child Abuse Prevention month, pinwheels – the national symbol for child abuse prevention – have been set out throughout Polk County. Pinwheels symbolize the desire for all children to have carefree, happy and stable childhoods in safe, nurturing environments.
Child abuse and neglect not only cause immediate harm to children but result in long-term psychological, emotional and physical effects that can cause lifelong consequences and can increase the likelihood of criminal behavior, substance abuse and health problems.
Safety, stability and nurturing are three critical qualities of relationships that make a difference for children as they grow and develop. Safety is the extent to which children are free from fear and secure from physical and psychological harm within their social and physical environments. Stability is the degree of consistency in children’s social, emotional and physical environments. Nurturing is the extent to which parents or caregivers are available and able to sensitively and consistently respond to and meet the needs of their children. Nurturing relationships can protect against factors that increase the risk for perpetuating abuse and provide models for positive interactions and social support.
In addition to joining in the Polk County Child Abuse Prevention Walk Child on Friday, everyone in the community can help promote and work towards building a safe, stable and nurturing environment for all children in all areas of their lives including home, school and community. Strategies that can be used to help achieve this include:
- Stopping child maltreatment before it starts.
- Improving parent-child relationships by teaching positive parenting skills, including
effective communication and appropriate discipline.
- Providing programs and resources for both children and parents for help and education. The idea of a community resource center where citizens could go for help and information would support this and other education programs needed in the community.
- Realizing that preventing child abuse and neglect is a community responsibility affecting both the current and future quality of life of Polk County and that finding solutions depends on the involvement of everyone.
More child abuse prevention resources can be found at Polk County Department of Social Services online and by calling (828) 894-2100.