Circle of Care to host child abuse prevention events

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2019

VALLEY — April is Child Abuse Prevention month and one organization in the Greater Valley Area will be hosting events throughout the month to spread awareness about the safety of children.

The Circle of Care Center for Families aims to make sure the Valley area is a place where children are protected, are loved and safe, according to its website. Throughout April, the organization will partner with the Chambers County Department of Human Services, the Tri-County Advocacy Center and other agencies to prevent abuse.

On April 6, Renew Hope 85 Initiative is hosting a Hope Walk to raise awareness for human trafficking in the area, which the organization sees as a child abuse issue. Adrian Carpenter, coordinator of the Renew Hope Program, said the average age of a victim being exploited in human trafficking situations is 12 to 14 years old.

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“For us, this is as much a child abuse issue as it is a human trafficking awareness walk,” he said.

The walk starts at 10 a.m. near Langdale Methodist Church at The Oaks. The participants will walk to Valley High School, then turn around and head back. Carpenter said the walk will be about 1.2 miles. After the walk, Circle of Care for Families Executive Director Jonathan Herston will talk about his organization’s plans for the future.

On Monday, April 8 at 4 p.m. ET, Circle of Care will team with the DHR office and the Advocacy Center to plant a flower garden to spread awareness on child abuse. The program is set to take place at the Chambers County DHR office, along with Judge Calvin Milford and law enforcement officials, Carpenter said.

Later in the month on April 23, Carpenter said Circle of Care will host a parent meeting at W.O. Lance Elementary School to talk about parental resilience — one of the Strengthening Families Protective Factors. He said the factors focuses on parental strengths and builds them up rather than focusing on what parents may be lacking.

There are five factors — parental resilience, social connections, concrete support in times of need, knowledge of parenting and child development and the social and emotional competence of children, according to Herston.

“Those protective factors help unwind the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences, which are pieces that push you toward all the negative outcomes,” Herston said. “The protective factors help buffer against those and counteract it.”

Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being, according to Child Trends, a nonprofit research center studying child at all stages of development.

Herston said research has found that there is a quiz that determines different levels of trauma as a child, including divorced parents, death, parents in prison, substance abuse or domestic violence. He said if an adult scores a six or above on one of those quizzes, there is a higher correlation between high scores on that survey and suicidality than there is between smoking and lung cancer. Additionally, high blood pressure, heart problems and other medical issues coincide with high scores on the survey.

Herston said teaching resilience during a workshop can help educate parents to bounce back as a family during difficult times instead of getting entrenched in those issues. He said when parents don’t bounce back, that is when higher levels of stress could lead to child abuse.

He said it doesn’t always mean physical or sexual child abuse, but it could lead to domestic abuse between the parents, which a child could witness. 

“That will have an adverse effect for the child itself,” Herston said. “That is still trauma.”

The event at W.O. Lance will show a movie about resilience and there will be a discussion afterward.

Carpenter said the organization hasn’t locked down a time as of Wednesday, but it will be announced soon.