April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a critical month designed to increase public awareness and educate people on this issue. We must work together to try and eradicate child abuse from our society, one child’s death is one too many. A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the United States and in Indiana alone the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline received 151,000 reports in 2011.
The first official National Child Abuse Prevention Month was in 1983 as Congress and others looked for ways to bring attention to this problem. Today, people display pinwheels and blue ribbons to show their support for the fight to end child abuse. We all play a pivotal role in protecting the children in our community.
There are many ways to get involved with Child Abuse Prevention Month. You can volunteer; make a donation, or simply spread the word about awareness. To find out more information, I encourage you visit the DCS website at www.in.gov/dcs/index.htm for more information about DCS and ways to get involved.
This past session, I carried a bill that works to help protect Indiana children by giving more tools to the Department of Child Services. This legislation continues the mission of helping Hoosier children in the most sensitive of situations be better served and represented.
A main provision of the bill creates an interim study committee on DCS issues. The bill also allows alleged victims of sex crimes to receive services from the victim’s assistance program until they are 31. Additionally, the legislation gives authority to DCS to conduct background checks of adult members who reside in a home prior to reuniting a child and their guardians. This is important because with the Safely Home, Families First initiative, DCS continues to increase the number of children who reside in their home and with their relatives.
Although we must keep in mind the distance we still have to go, this bill is a big step forward in ensuring that Hoosier children will be better protected. Stopping and preventing child abuse starts when people in a community join together and work to make a difference. We owe it to our children to fight for their safety.