GLASGOW — Community members wore blue ribbons in support of preventing child abuse as they attended a proclamation signing Tuesday morning on the steps of the Barren County Courthouse.
A proclamation to make April “National Child Abuse Prevention Month” was signed by Glasgow Mayor Harold Armstrong and Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale.
Three supervisors of Social Services in Barren County — Sandra Reynolds, Joan Norris and Kim Johnson — spoke to the Glasgow Daily Times about child abuse prevention and why there are blue pinwheels placed in front of the courthouse.
“We want to bring awareness of the plight of the children in our community,” Reynolds said. “We want to make everyone aware that we’re here and we care.”
Norris said the pinwheels originally represented the number of substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect, but over the years, they didn’t have enough pinwheels to equate this number, so it is now just symbolizes children who have been in abusive or neglectful situations.
Johnson said Kentucky has the highest rate of child abuse in the nation.
Hopefully the pinwheels will remind people to report abuse, Reynolds said.
“If anyone knows of any child that’s not been treated correctly, the pinwheels will trigger them to call in a report and to help protect children,” she said. “Because it does take a village. It takes probably two villages.”
They said to please call 1-877-KYSAFE1 to report child abuse or neglect.
“Everybody has to be aware and everybody should report,” Norris said. “Everybody needs to report and work on ways to reduce maltreatment.”
Johnson added that every resident in Kentucky is a mandated reporter by law.
“Not everyone is aware of that,” she said, and that many people believe that only teachers, medical staff, law enforcement and social service workers are the only ones with this mandate, “but every single resident in the state of Kentucky is a mandated reporter by law.”
In order to identify abuse or neglect, Johnson said people should look for “changes in behaviors” and children who “appear to have withdrawn within themselves.”
“Obviously there are the physical indicators — bruises, being unkept,” she said.
Norris said that “sometimes you’re not going to have a sign.”
“Some children you will not have a sign,” she said. “If you know the child, suspicion needs to be reported. You don’t have to prove it to call it in.
“I think our courts are very supportive and do all that they can to find the resources to help parents effectively parent, and I think we need to know that there’s not one black and white book that says ‘parent this way,’ you just have to understand what is abuse and when do I cross the line.”
Norris said parents can discipline their children, “but you just need to know every child might have a different style of discipline that works for them.”
Johnson added that there is a fine line between discipline and abuse.
“I think we also have a high rate of people not realizing the impact of not parenting,” Norris said.
Having children is easy, Norris continued, “but actually providing for them and realizing that it’s not about me, it’s really about the child” is where some parents go wrong.
“They have to put the children first, and we just see a lot of parents who don’t know how to do that,” Norris said. “When they’re little, you can say: ‘Timeout. Sit down. Do this.’ When they’re 12, they need as much attention as they did when they were 2. They just need it in a different way.”
Norris recommended parents to keep up with their children.
“Talk to them. Have a relationship,” she said. “Communication with your children is very important. It’s also a real way to identify drug use and abuse in younger children.
“If you’re not talking to them, you don’t know when things are changing, so you have to have a real thorough open line of communication with your children. It’s very, very important.”