In Your Opinion: We All Have A Role To Play In Preventing Child Abuse

By Ellen Junas and Phyllis Beals.

Have you noticed the pinwheels by the Township gazebo?   April is Child Abuse Prevention month.  We all have a part to play to prevent child abuse and neglect.     Franklin Woman’s Club members, in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, planted “pinwheels for prevention” Saturday April 1 in front of the Township Gazebo.  The pinwheels represent joy and a safe childhood for all children.

“According to the NJ Division of Children and Families, two million youth aged 17 and under reside in NJ, and one in one hundred children experiences abuse or neglect.”  In Somerset County the majority of reports involve neglect due to parental domestic violence, substance abuse or mental illness (reported at a recent county DCF webinar).  The Department of Child Protection, Permanency and Planning (DCPPP) will investigate allegations, but their mission is to keep children with their parents/guardians, not to remove children unless there is an imminent danger to a child(ren).

In New Jersey, everyone is a mandated reporter which means any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse should immediately report this information to the State Central Registry  1-877-NJ ABUSE (1-877-652-2873).   Reports can be made anonymously and should always be made “in good faith” that is with a sincere and honest concern for the child(ren).

A great prevention hotline for parents/guardians who are having difficulty and they want to talk to someone or seek help is the  Family Helpline.  Available 24 hours, seven days a week, and regardless of language.  The Family Hotline is 1-800-TheKIDS ( 1-800-843-5437).

Often people will express opinions that “it isn’t my business” or “I don’t want to get involved,” or have the erroneous belief “that can’t happen in my neighborhood”.  Abuse and neglect happen across all income levels, races, faiths, creeds, and yes, it can happen in our neighborhoods.

Besides reporting something if you see/hear something, you can get to know your neighbors, and convey support or understanding for the demands of parenting, or maybe make an offer to help.  “We owe our children- the most vulnerable citizens in any society- a life free from violence and fear.” Nelson Mandela

For more information about Child abuse prevention resources or the Franklin Woman’s Club visit www.franklinwomansclub.com

Ellen Junas and Phyllis Beals are Women’s Club members.

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