MAYVILLE, N.Y.:- The month of April is devoted to celebrating everything we can do to transform our communities into places that care about and actively support families and children. The Pinwheels for Prevention movement is based upon the belief that we must do more than just respond to cases of abuse through prosecution and intervention – we need to provide policies and programs that engage communities and create conditions which allow parents to be the kind of parents they want to be.
The pinwheel symbolizes a happy and uplifting token of childhood, one of hope and the bright futures we want for Chautauqua County kids. Jacqueline Chiarot-Phelps, Executive Director of the YWCA of Jamestown, compared the pinwheel to children.
“With a little bit of help, whether it be from wind, person or child, the pinwheels move forward, they get excited and it’s kind of the same thing with children,” said Chiarot-Phelps. “With a little bit of help and with services constantly provided, our children move forward.”
On Monday, April 15, 2019, community partners gathered at the Northwest Arena in Jamestown to raise awareness of child abuse prevention in Chautauqua County. The message conveyed was consistent and strong, encouraging everyone to take simple, ordinary actions every day to create positive change for families and communities and make a big difference to kids in Chautauqua County.
Jamestown City Council Board President Marie Carrubba encouraged all area residents to become actively involved.
“I know sometimes we all think that we are helpless and that we can’t do much, but everything you see and everything you say in reporting the abuse will help the children of our community to live a better life and have a better future,” said Carrubba.
Beth Starks, Executive Director for the Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center echoed Carrubba’s statement.
“It is easy for us to look away, it’s easy to say not my child, not my concern, and it’s even easy to sit here at a rally one day a year standing for prevention,” said Starks. “The children of our county need more from you. Do not look away; learn what’s going on in front of you in our county. Don’t say not my child, not my problem, say our child and all of our children are all of our problems and don’t sit here at a rally one day a year standing for prevention, stand up for children every day. Be their voice, everyone has a role to play in preventing child abuse and supporting children and families.”
Tori Jordan, an Advocate at The Child Advocacy Program (CAP), recommends community members seek training in how to talk with kids, how to look for signs of abuse, and how to handle the exposure.
“We believe in teaching adults how to protect kids because we believe it is an adult job to protect kids from abuse,” said Jordan. “We can no longer neglect to be part of the solution. We need to shed light on this traumatic experience which happens in a lot of children’s lives and decide that we will not stand for this to happen to our children anymore.”
The Child Advocacy Program has multiple authorized facilitators who provide Darkness to Light Stewards of Children Training through which adults learn the five steps to protecting our kids, how to respond when a child discloses and how to make a report. For more information on the training, please call (716) 338-9844.
Leanna Luka-Conley, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Health and Human Services informed everyone that the prevention of child abuse and neglect needs the help from the whole community.
“Child abuse, neglect and child trafficking exist in Chautauqua County and go un-noticed on a daily basis,” said Luka-Conley. “Law enforcement and Child Protection Services cannot do this by themselves. I encourage everyone to take an active part in his or her community and with the individuals that live among us. We are fortunate to have many wonderful organizations in our community that combat child abuse on a daily basis such as the Salvation Army, YWCA, Child Advocacy Center, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Jamestown Public Schools, Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, and many others.”
The majority of child abuse cases stem from situations and conditions that are entirely preventable in an engaged and supportive community, which cares about early childhood development, parent support and maternal mental health. When you knock on a neighbor’s door to see if they need help with babysitting or homework, reach out to someone being bullied, volunteer at a local child-serving agency, or take a stand for a family support program in your community, you’re doing something extraordinary!
If we work to make the ordinary extraordinary not just during Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, but every day, we can go a long way toward creating the kind of world where all children have the great childhoods they deserve, and abuse and neglect never occur.