April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Thursday, April 18, 2019
Joining local DHS staff for the pinwheel ceremony Monday on the courthouse lawn were, from left: DHS county administrator Annette Dutka, Clay County Judge Mike Patterson, Piggott City Clerk Julie McMillon and Piggott Mayor Travis Williams along with staff from the local office.
TD photo/Tim Blair

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to celebrate the good things communities do to promote healthy child development, help prevent child abuse and neglect and help make great childhoods happen. In observance, a special pinwheel ceremony was held Monday afternoon on the courthouse lawn in Piggott. The event was sponsored by the Clay County Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family Services.

“Our community here is a diverse, amazing community of people from all walks of life,” DHS spokesman Omer Overbay noted. “Each of you is different, yet you all have one thing in common—you support strengthening families and keeping children happy and safe—even if you don't realize it.”

The observance also serves to thank those who have the chance to make a difference.

“For some of us, our jobs give us the opportunity and responsibility to help keep children safe and happy and healthy,” he added. “You may work directly with children and families as a Division of Children and Family Services employee. You may be on staff at a child advocacy center or you may be a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, volunteer. You might be a member of local law enforcement or the state police, or a first responder. Maybe you are a teacher a therapist or a foster parent.”

Overbay noted all Arkansans can play an important role in ensuring kids have a great childhood.

“We know that even the best parents and families may need help at times, but asking for help can be hard, scary or intimidating. We are Arkansans, we are proud, hardworking self-sufficient people. But we are also compassionate, generous, happy to reach out to our fellow Arkansans when help is needed.”

Noting that friends, children and families in neighborhoods across the state need help he offered some suggestions. “What can we do? Anyone can help by doing things they already love to do, but with a specific purpose—to connect and support families in your community or neighborhood in the spirit of mercy and kindness.”

For those who love to read, he suggested volunteering for an after-school reading program or book club. For those who love to cook, sharing a meal can reduce stress on families in a number of ways. Those who love sports may coach a youth sports team, allowing youngsters to learn about teamwork, trusting adult authority figures, teammates and themselves.

“You could also host a kid-friendly barbecue or organize a neighborhood party so parents can socialize without the stress of finding a sitter,” he added. “Social connections with other parents also helps to establish strong support networks that parents can rely on when life gets stressful.”

Overbay added that, on the surface, the efforts sound simple. “But, these simple things, these small steps, make a huge difference for our families and children. So, I challenge you as Arkansans to connect with your neighbors, your churches, your communities and take those small steps to make a huge impact on our most vulnerable citizens.”

Those taking part in the local ceremony included Clay County Judge Mike Patterson, Piggott Mayor Travis Williams, Piggott City Clerk Julie McMillon, DHS County Administrator Annette Dutka and staff from the local office.

More information on National Child Abuse Prevention Month is available online at www.childwelfare.org

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