Madison County received 344 child abuse and neglect reports during fiscal year 2009.
The majority of those reports were handled as “Family Support Cases” – that’s the provision of services in order to prevent the situation from rising to the level of child abuse or neglect. Of the remaining cases that were accepted for investigation, 24 percent were substantiated for child abuse or neglect, an increase over the previous year. During April we publicly remember the victims of child abuse and neglect, but focus on ways that every citizen of Madison County can prevent child abuse.
This month, and throughout the year, Madison County Department of Family and Children Services, in conjunction with Prevent Child Abuse Athens and Madison Area Resource Team (MART), encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Madison County a better place for families.
Research shows that five important factors are present in healthy families. Promoting these factors is among the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect.
•Nurturing and attachment.
•Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development.
•Concrete supports for parents.
April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children. Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to promote the five protective factors, in every interaction with families, is the best thing our community can do to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Here’s how you can help prevent child abuse:
•Help a relative, friend or neighbor who is struggling.
•Volunteer at your child’s school or child care center. Contact the Madison County Mentor Program at 706-338-3689.
•Donate to the Ferst Foundation to promote childhood literacy and family involvement. $36 provides one book a month for a year for a child. Mail your check payable to Madison County Rotary Club (write Literacy on the Memo line) to Madison County Rotary Club PO Box 596, Danielsville, GA 30633.
•Visit the display at the Old Courthouse in Danielsville to pay witness to the victims of abuse and neglect last year in Madison County.
•Never shake a baby.
•Donate school supplies, food or gently used items to local resources to provide to needy families.
•Take a parenting class.
•Attend a MART meeting and be part of the solution. MART meets the last Tuesday of the month at 8 a.m. at the Madison Chamber Meeting Room. Contact Coordinator Ryan Melton at 706-795-3565.
•If you see child abuse in a public place, start a positive conversation with the parent. Acknowledge how difficult parenting can be. Avoid negative remarks or looks as this could make the situation worse.
•Schedule a presentation for your church or civic group to learn more about child abuse prevention. Contact Lisa C. Plank, County Director, Madison County DFCS, 706-795-2128.
By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect by strengthening families and communities.
For more information about child abuse prevention programs and activities during the month of April and throughout the year, contact Madison County DFCS, 706-795-2128, MART, 706-795-3565, or Prevent Child Abuse Athens, 706-546-9713.
Director, Madison County Department of Family and Children Services