These questions are asked constantly. We realize our program has changed over time many times. For the past several months this blog has consisted of stories pertaining to some of the Child Abuse Prevention issues we address. Instead, today’s blog will describe the answers to the above questions.
This organization, since it’s inception in a Board Room at United Way in 1984, always worked and evolved to meet community needs. That effort continues today. Today there are several collaborative groups in Gaston County – The Community Children’s Collaborative, The Adult Collaborative, the Multiple Disciplinary Team (The Lighthouse, Gaston County Children’s Advocacy Center), Safe Kids Gaston and the Community Child Protection Team/Child Fatality Taskforce. Prevent Child Abuse Gaston was the very first children’s services collaborative in Gaston County, consisting of representatives of county and city departments, police, schools, therapists, daycares and concerned community volunteers. That collaboration also continues today. Each collaborative group has separate missions and purposes.
This past spring, we reached out to 34 agencies to form new committees to address seven different issues of child abuse prevention. From that effort, committees were formed and our new program emerged. We call it, “The Safe Seven”. Developing public awareness and education on these seven areas of child abuse prevention has become our new program. It is our mission, it is what we do. We do it with input and collaboration with county and city departments, attorneys, therapists, business people, teachers, police, schools, daycares and concerned community voluteers. How did we choose these topics – we didn’t. The community did. What do we do? We bring people together to discuss these issues and decide how we are going to resolve them, where we can find the funds for the necessary materials and manpower and who is going to do what.
What they are and who requested them as one of our issues are as follows:
- Safe Surrender – In 2001, the North Carolina Legislature passed the “Infant Homocide Prevention Act” or as it is better known, “the Safe Surrender Law”. This law enables someone with an infant 7 days or younger the ability to surrender the baby to a responsible adult without the fear of prosecution for abandonment. The campaign on this issue was requested by the Gaston County Department of Social Services in 2006 because a newborn baby in Gaston County was left outdoors in below freezing weather. The Department wanted to be sure the general public was aware of the law and the ability to give a newborn in a desparate situation the chance to survive.
- Safe Sleeping – Over the last ten years Gaston County has seen a significant drop in the number of infant deaths due to SIDS or asphixiation due to being placed in a bed with an adult, from 24 in 2006 to 3 in 2015. The campaign on this issue was requested by the Gaston County Community Child Protection Team/Child Fatality Task Force in 2010 when the majority of the cases reviewed that year involved infants who were placed in a bed with an adult.
- Car Safety – “Take Them With You” – To date, in 2016, twenty-seven children in the United States died from being left or playing alone in a hot car. That number reached 49 children in 2010. Awareness of this danger is helping but more work needs to be done. This campaign was requested by the Safe Kids Gaston collaborative in 2013.
- Water Safety – Over 700 children a year die worldwide due to drowning. In the majority of cases, the incidents are accidents. Sometimes the incident is attributed to neglect for a lack of supervision. This campaign was requested by the Gaston County Community Child Protection Team/Child Fatality Task Force in 2011 because drowning was identified as the second highest ranked cause of death in children in North Carolina that year.
- Anti-bullying – “Meet Me on the Playground” – One of the most prevalent forms of child abuse, bullying has become an increasing concern among parents, educators and children across the United States. 85% of students interviewed in several studies report being the victim of bullying sometime during their lifetime before the age of 18 years. This campaign was requested by the Partnership for Children of Lincoln and Gaston Counties in March, 2014.
- Child Sexual Abuse – “Darkness to Light” – With Gaston County ranking 4th in North Carolina for reports of child sexual abuse, the need for an effective awareness program became apparent many years ago. This campaign was requested by the Gaston County Department of Social Services in 2003. In 2007, Prevent Child Abuse Gaston began researching the Darkness to Light program and brought it to Gaston County in 2010.
- Gun Safety – This topic is constantly in the news currently. In November 2015, the Gaston County Community Child Protection Team/Child Fatality Task Force reviewed 3 child fatalities due to gun shots. This campaign was requested by the Gaston County Community Child Protection Team/Child Fatality Task Force at that time.
In the next few weeks we will explore these campaigns and our other projects more in depth and present the strategies Prevent Child Abuse Gaston is pursuing to address them