OPINION — Protecting our children

Published 6:00 am Thursday, April 15, 2021

Colorful blue pinwheel gardens are springing up in our area, the state and even across the nation, and you may be asking yourself, “What’s it about?” National Child Abuse Awareness month is observed annually in April, and pinwheel gardens are planted as a visible reminder of the stable, healthy childhood all children deserve. They also serve as a reminder to adults that we need to ensure our children’s healthy development and growth.

According to a Virginia Child Protective Services Accountability Referrals Type of Abuse Annual Report during the period of July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020, Buckingham County CPS received 338 referrals of abuse. Of these, 267 were accepted and investigated further. Cumberland County CPS received 130 referrals of abuse. Of these, 78 were accepted and investigated further. Prince Edward County CPS received 251 referrals of abuse. Of these, 120 were accepted and investigated further. Abuses reported included medical neglect, mental abuse/neglect, physical abuse, physical neglect, sexual abuse and substance-exposed infants.

Our police, sheriffs and deputies, firefighters and first responders, our teachers, day care providers, social workers and health care providers are all trained and educated on how to recognize and report abuse and neglect of our children. As the CPS report clearly shows, they see way too much of it.

As a society, we must do better. Let’s partner with these agencies by giving them our support to make a difference and stop abuse and neglect before it starts. Preventing child abuse and neglect means helping all parents have the knowledge, skills, resources and support they need to provide the safe, stable, nurturing and healthy environment all children need to thrive.

For specific ideas on how you can help and make a difference in our community, visit https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/resources/resource-guide/.

Look for more pinwheel gardens springing up in our area, and remember to support your local agencies as they work to support you and our most precious jewels — our children.

Betty J. Ramsey is the publisher of The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Betty.Ramsey@FarmvilleHerald.com.