Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
NEW BOSTON — Four hundred and ninety-nine blue pinwheels decorate the front lawn of Scioto County Children Services in New Boston. One for every substantiated case of child abuse or neglect in Scioto County in 2012. That’s 139 more than the previous year, said Children Services Supervisor Lisa Thomas.
In recognition of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the local office has placed the pinwheels outside. They also have sold 400 blue memorial t-shirts for people to wear to work on Wednesday as part of the statewide awareness program. Pictures of people in their shirts will be posted on the state and local Children Services Facebook pages.
“It takes a community to protect the children, and it’s everybody’s responsibility. If they see something that is a dangerous situation for a child, please call us. Make a referral. They can make an anonymous call. They don’t have to give their name; just call in and say what they saw, giving addresses and the names of children involved, in as much detail as they can. That way we can investigate it,” Thomas said.
Asked why the number of child abuse or neglect cases has risen so dramatically in 2012, Thomas points to the growing drug problem in Scioto County.
“We’ve had a lot, a really big increase of drug-addicted incidents. We have more people being arrested for drugs, and that seems to be a big reason for the increase. Also I think the economy and the poverty in our area can cause an increase in the abuse,” she said.
After Child Abuse Prevention Month in April comes National Foster Parent Appreciation Month in May. Thomas said it’s important to have caring and qualified foster parents ready to step-in whenever needed.
“With the increase of children in custody, we have a big need for foster parents in our community; people that would be willing to take children in and willing to work with the families and work toward reunification with the family,” Thomas said.
On April 24, Dr. Kristen Garton from Nationwide Children’s Hospital will speak about child abuse prevention during an Children Services event at Shawnee State University. Another speaker from Child Protective Services in Chillicothe will present the Darkness to Light Program, bringing awareness to sexual abuse, at the event.
For more information about the event on April 24, how to become a foster parent, or how to report a case of possible abuse or neglect, contact the Scioto County Children Services at 740-456-4164. They are also available online at sciotocsb.com, or on Facebook.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.