Child abuse prevention
Published 8:48 am Tuesday, March 29, 2016
A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds in the United States, according to the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Tennessee. Since 2010, cases of child abuse in Carter County have increased from 519 to 668 cases in 2014 (6.2 percent of same age population), according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
But advocacy groups are fighting back with equal if not greater force both nationally and locally. The month of April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month, and more than 150 businesses statewide are participating in campaigns to raise awareness and promote resources for families and youth.
Local businesses and organizations will display blue pinwheels as part of the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign by Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee (PCAT).
Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library, Frontier Health, Thomas Davis Edward Jones and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northeast Tennessee (CASA) will plant 200 pinwheels in Carter and surrounding counties to raise awareness.
“Ensuring children have the opportunity to grow up in a safe, healthy environment is everyone’s responsibility. The pinwheel is a reminder that we all play a role in the future of our children,” said PCAT Executive Director Kristen Rector. “Children deserve to grow up feeling safe, nurtured, and loved, and the pinwheel gardens planted across the state of Tennessee this April show our commitment to families in the communities where we work and live everyday.”
CASA and PCAT have specified two opportunities to wear blue as a symbol of Carter County’s support of healthy, stable childhoods and child abuse prevention. On April 1 and April 8, those wearing blue are encouraged to share photos on social media with the tag #greatchildhoods.
CASA director Leslie Dalton encourages businesses, schools and organizations to participate and to consider mailing donations of $5 per participant to CASA NETN at P.O. Box 1021, Johnson City, TN, 37605.
CASA has been serving children in the court system since 2004 with its court appointed advocates. She said these trained volunteers are often the only stable element in these children’s lives, as they may be moving from home to home with few possessions. Advocates provide an important service to children by being a trusted and informed advocate who may make recommendations for the child’s future in court. CASA records reflect that judges have accepted over 95 percent of those well-researched recommendations.
U.S. Justice Department data shows that if CASA is on the case, the time spent in the system is greatly reduced, by as much as half, and less than 10 percent of children with CASA advocates reenter the foster care system.
In the fiscal year 2012-13, CASA of Northeast Tennessee served 428 children in Greene, Unicoi and Washington Counties. In 2014, more than 300 children in Carter County did not have access to this service, but CASA is in the process of expanding to Carter County with the support of local volunteers. A steering committee has met twice and will hold its third meeting on April 1 at Lone Star in Elizabehton at noon. Those interested in participating or learning more about the organization and what it could offer to the children of Carter County are welcome to attend.
For more information on PCAT, visit www.pcat.org. To learn more about CASA, visit www.casanetn.org or contact Dalton with questions at 423-461-3500 or by email at email@example.com.