For many, April is the first gleam of light from the end of the school year. Just one month and summer is all theirs.
For Jefferson County Job and Family Services, Children Services Division, April is the time to take a stand. It's also a time for us to reflect and reaffirm our commitment to help prevent and to save the hundreds of abused and neglected children who have faced adversities and traumas that most people will never know.
Each day, I watch a very talented work force of dedicated people work to prevent crime and stop child abuse. We all have to recognize neglect and not walk away from it.
One of the many ways is to "Choose Your Partner Carefully."
Far too often, a child is abused or even killed when left in the care of a parent's partner. Ask yourself these questions: Does your partner have a criminal history? How has he or she treated their past partners? How does he or she treat other children? How does he or she treat animals?
Does your partner:
Show anger or impatience when your child cries or has tantrums?
Call your child bad names or put your child down?
Think it is funny to scare your child?
Stop you from bringing your child to family events?
Make all the decisions for you and your child?
Tell you that you are a bad parent or that you should not have your kids?
Pretend that when he or she hurts your child that you are to blame or that it's no big deal?
Make your child scared by using guns, knives or other weapons?
Tell you that your child is a nuisance?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, your child might be at risk.
Take this month to talk with your children and discuss what to do if something bad happened. Establish a safe place and a safe person - a place and a person to whom your children may go if something makes them uncomfortable. Let your children tell you who they trust and where they feel comfortable.
There are many ways that we can each assist families who may be in need of assistance.
And, in the process, we may help prevent child abuse and neglect.
We encourage everyone to get involved today.
(Ferron is the Jefferson County Job and Family Services director.)