Mayor hosts on panel discussion on child abuse awareness

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As part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron hosted an April 14 panel discussion called Healthy, Happy Childhoods at the Zionsville Municipal Building, 1100 W Oak St., with help from co-sponsors Sylvia’s Child Advocacy Center and Prevent Child Abuse in Boone County.

The organizations also co-sponsored a Healthy, Happy Childhoods discussion panel at Lebanon City Hall on April 13, hosted by Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry.

“All children have a right to a loving, nurturing home,” Styron stated in an email to Current. “We must do everything we can to support the needs of children during the most vulnerable time in their lives. Supporting children is a community responsibility and I encourage residents to partner with local organizations like Sylvia’s Child Advocacy Center to prevent child abuse and neglect.”

Eastwood

The events were promoted by Boone County Prosecutor Kent Eastwood and are designed to inform the public about warning signs and how to react when someone encounters a case of child abuse.

“In 25 years serving in a prosecutor’s office, too often the signs of child abuse or neglect were present in cases, and the adults in the child’s life did not do anything,” Eastwood said. “We have a duty to one another to help those without a voice, and this month is about bringing awareness to how we can help protect our children. These town hall forums are designed to be informative sessions for our community in terms of overall awareness of the problem, available resources and practices each one of us can do to help keep our children safe.”

Nationwide, nearly 700,000 children are abused or neglected per year. Indiana recorded 50 child fatalities attributed to abuse or neglect in 2020 and nearly 30,000 cases of abuse overall, according to the Indiana Dept. of Child Services.

Eastwood said the key to protecting children in the community is by educating parents and empowering community members to know the warning signs of child abuse and ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills and resources they need to care for their children.

Eastwood said there are several factors to help prevent child abuse, including:

• Nurturing and attachment

• Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development

• Parental resilience

• Avoid abusing alcohol or using drugs

• Support for parents

According to Eastwood, some of the signs of child abuse are:

• Physical injuries that are unexplained or self-harm

• Depression, anxiety, unusual fears

• Fear of a certain adult or location

• Sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, school performance or behavior

• Inappropriate sexual behavior or language

• Frequent absences from school

“It’s up to all of us in our community and individual neighborhoods to ensure that the children who represent our future grow up safe, healthy and free from abuse,” Eastwood said.

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