April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and according to Mercer County’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, in 2018 Mercer had 290 reports that met the criteria for abuse.
Mercer County organizations are collaborating to raise awareness and foster prevention throughout the community.
Sharon Perkins, coordinator for Burgin Family Connections is passionate about educating the public and preventing abuse cycles.
“Child abuse is not part of God’s plan for families. Unfortunately, unhealthy families tend to reproduce themselves,” said Perkins. “I am currently trying to get a book that effectively addresses the issue of child sexual abuse prevention free of charge into the hands of Mercer County families in a big way. The book is called My Body Belongs to Me.”
Perkins has been working with churches and other civic organizations to provide copies of the book to families.
Education is a big part of Perkins’ dedication to Mercer families. She holds intensive parenting classes.
“I am working with the Extension Office and Southside Christian Church on Nurturing Parenting courses with a personal and Christian perspective. Nurturing Parenting is a research-based, intensive parenting training program explicitly addressing child abuse prevention,” said Perkins. “The course has been around for about 20 years. There are 12 classes, each approximately 1.5 hours long and my mission is to make a dent in child abuse statistics here in Mercer County.”
Mercer County Family Resource is asking local businesses to purchase a blue ribbon for awareness. The ribbons are $10 and the funds raised benefit Go Blue for kids poster and coloring contest.
Mercer County Family, Career and Community Leaders of America will be going door to door selling the ribbons on Monday, March 25.
Mercer County Ministerial Association has taken up the mission as well.
“We fully support the Go Blue For Kids in raising the awareness of child abuse and lend full support to all efforts to strengthen the families in Mercer County,” said Terry Morrison, president of the ministerial association. “The association is asking all churches who will to designate Sunday, April 7, as Blue Sunday. ”
So far two local churches committed to the movement and the association expects more to follow.
The Mercer County Extension Office is holding a day of free food, fun, and activities on Monday, April 22 from 4:30- 6:30 p.m. in honor of prevention month. The event is titled “Take a Stand Against Child Abuse.” The extension office’s day will include a resource fair, coloring contest and crafts. They are also encouraging people to wear blue in support of the cause.
World Health Organization defines abuse as all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival and development.
The reports of abuse in Mercer County are broken down as 235 families with 414 children involved. Of those reports, 165 children required services or intervention and 156 children with substantiated abuse. (The cabinet noted that a child with multiple reports was counted multiple times)
Child abuse prevention month started in 1983 with the purpose of encouraging communities to rededicate themselves to being supportive of families, and play an active role in preventing child abuse and neglect.
For more information contact Sharon Perkins at 748-5282, Terry Morrison at Harrodsburg Community Church at 734-3036 or Mercer County Extension Office at 734-4378.
For more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.