A special Child Abuse Prevention event will take place from 4-7 p.m. on Monday, April 23, at the Mercer County Extension Office featuring community leaders and educational services. The evening is an important step towards raising child abuse awareness in Mercer County and the public is invited to attend.
The Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) recently announced that Mercer County saw 290 cases of child abuse last year. Of those, 163 were investigated and substantiated.
“That’s a high number for our community,” said Georgiana Bray, the Mercer County Intermediate School Family Resource Center Coordinator and an organizer of the Child Abuse Prevention Event. “We want to raise awareness among parents and caregivers, so they know that kids around Mercer County may be struggling. No child deserves to be abused.”
Whitney Johns is an attorney of Taylor and Johns, PLLC, who works with juvenile and family court. She explained that being careful and attentive can save lives.
“In Kentucky, it’s the law to report abuse. Sometimes, that call to the social services hotline is what saves a life,” Johns said. “I prosecute abuse and neglect cases. Those are all confidential, so most people don’t know what we see from week to week. Many would be surprised to learn what happens, even in Mercer County. I hope everyone can visit this event and learn more about what we can do together.”
On hand the night of April 23, will be numerous public officials including the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and the Harrodsburg Police Department, a resource fair, counseling services, mental health providers, the Mercer County Public Library, face painting provided by the 4-H Club and more.
Winner of the school wide “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” poster and coloring contest will also be announced that evening, with cash prizes for the finalist of each age group.
“Everyone should stop by on April 23, so they can be more informed,” said Bray. “As a community, we need to be more supportive of our fellow citizens. The more support systems we have in place, the less chance there is for child abuse to occur. Keep your eyes open and, if you suspect something, report it.”
The Mercer County Extension Office is located at 1007 Lexington Road in Harrodsburg.
To file a report if child abuse is suspected contact the DCBS hotline at 855-306-8959.
On Saturday, April 21, the Family Resource and Youth Service Centers of Mercer County Schools and Burgin Independent School in cooperation with the Mercer County Coaliton For Early Childhood Council will hold a Community Baby Shower from 10 a.m.–noon at the Harrodsburg Christian Church. The event will include a resource fair, counsellors advising for local Medicaid services, cake, punch and giveaways of door prizes and youth clothing.
On Thursday, April 26, Burgin churches will hold prayers for child safety, said Sharon Perkins, the Family Resource and Youth Service Center director for Burgin Independent School.
On Friday, April 27, Burgin will host Darkness to Light, a sexual abuse prevention program for parents. Perkins said a meal and childcare will be provided, and everyone who attends will receive a copy of “My Body Belongs To Me,” an illustrated book written by Jill Starishevsky, a mother of three and an assistant district attorney for New York City who has prosecuted hundreds of child abuse and sex crime cases. Perkins said she also intends to distribute the book through the Burgin preschool and through the cradle school.
“I want to get this in as many hands as possible,” she said.
Darkness to Light starts at 6 p.m. at Burgin Independent School.