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RBC | Child abuse is a taboo topic in our community. It’s hard to acknowledge that there are children who are not safe in their own homes. However, child abuse and neglect does happen on a regular basis throughout Rio Blanco County. Just last year, there were 240 calls to the Child Abuse Hotline in Rio Blanco County alone, with 30 cases of substantiated child abuse and neglect. More than half of these children were removed from their homes and placed in out-of-home care, such as foster care or with a relative (source: Colorado Department of Human Services)
There are some people who are considered mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. Colorado state law states that a report is required when a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect. There are more than 40 professions who fall into this category, including doctors, dentists, teachers, coaches, clergy, veterinarians, and firefighters. If a mandatory reporter fails to make a report, they may be charged with a misdemeanor.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month in particular, there is an emphasis to encourage all individuals, businesses, and organizations to play a role in making a Rio Blanco County a better place for children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect by creating strong and thriving children, youth, and families in our communities. Research shows that protective factors are present in healthy families. Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that mitigate risk and promote healthy development and wellbeing. Promoting the following protective factors is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect:
- Nurturing and attachment
- Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Concrete supports for parents
- Social and emotional competence of children
April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children and strengthening families. With the particularly stressful times we are currently in, lend a hand to your friends and neighbors who might need some help with childcare as best you’re able. Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to connect with families is the best thing our community can do to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.
In support of these efforts, the Herald Times is running a four-part series throughout April to highlight the urgency of this issue, as well as local resources: Rio Blanco County Health Services Department, CASA of the Ninth, and River Bridge Regional Center. We want to encourage everyone to keep our children safe and if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the Colorado Child Abuse Hotline: 1-844-CO-4-KIDS.