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Tie on a blue ribbon


The KIDS Center is spreading the word that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

by: KEVIN SPERL - TOP: Crooked River fourth-grader Zachary Frantz ties a blue ribbon to his backpack. ABOVE: Fourth-graders Julia Mapes (RIGHT) and Brayden Baertlein tie blue ribbons to their backpacks in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Terra Tyger, the KIDS Center Rural Initiative Coordinator, came to Crooked River Elementary school yesterday armed with a fistful of blue ribbons.

The Kids Intervention and Diagnostic Service (KIDS) Center is a non-profit child abuse intervention organization serving all of Central Oregon, and is dedicated to the prevention, evaluation and treatment of child abuse.

In partnership with "For the Children," a nonprofit child abuse prevention team, Tyger is helping to spread the organization's theme "Speak up and Save a Child," as part of April's Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign

Janet Rosenzweig, vice president for Prevent Child Abuse America, believes that the annual awareness campaign serves as a reminder for the need to focus on healthy child development. According to Rosenzweig, happy, healthy children grow into happy, healthy, and productive adults and strengthen the economic and social fabric of our community.

A UNICEF report on children's wellbeing shows that the United States ranks 26 out of 29 developed countries when taking into account children's health and safety, education behaviors and risks, and their housing and environment. A second report shows that the country ranks 32 out of 34 industrialized nations in terms of child poverty, with 23 percent of children living in relative poverty.

From Tyger's perspective, meaningful connections comes from greater awareness.

"Our goal is to create a bigger visual awareness than we have in the past," she said. "We've come together to do a bunch of things together."

The website, childwelfare.gov states: "When we make meaningful connections with the children, youth, and families in our communities, we can help parents build the knowledge and skills and access the resources necessary to raise happy and healthy children."

The site goes on to suggest that everyone can play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting child and family well-being.

To that end, Tyger, and other volunteers, will be displaying blue pin wheels and placard displays throughout the city, including City Hall Plaza and the police department.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse as "any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."

In 2012, there were almost 3 million referrals of suspected child abuse, with 61,900 of those in Oregon, caused by medical neglect, physical abuse, psychological maltreatment or sexual abuse.

It is estimated that over 1,600 children, nationally, died from abuse and neglect in 2012, with 70 percent of those younger than three years old. Research also shows that eighty percent of child fatalities were caused by one or both parents.

There are a number of suggested activities that communities can organize, from the simple to the complex that helps to make better community connections.

Simply getting out and meeting your neighbors, attending parents meeting at your child's school, setting up playgroups and encouraging local service providers to produce a directory of available services so that they are easy to find are some suggestions made by the experts.

On a larger scale community events such as block parties and father/daughter dances can bring communities closer together.

Tyger just wants to ensure that the community is alert to recognizing, and reporting, child abuse.

"Community members might not always be trained to see something," she said, adding that she has often been called by parents with small children that they suspect have been acting out, possibly in reaction to abuse.

"Child abuse happens and it happens here in Crook County," said Tyger, "Reporting suspected abuse is a challenge for a lot of people, so we want to make sure that people know there are people, and agencies that can help."

Upcoming activities in Crook County taking place as part of Child Abuse Prevention month.


Healing Hearts Breakfast Fundraiser:

You are invited to the KIDS Center's Healing Hearts breakfast on Thursday, April 10, benefiting kids in Crook County. The breakfast is free, however, attendees are asked to make a donation in whatever amount is meaningful to them. 

Internet Safety

KIDS Center offers training to help parents and caregivers become aware of the dangers that exist online. Participants will walk away with tips on how to talk to children about using the Internet safely, and steps families can take to better protect children. This training takes place on April 15, from 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. at Crooked River Elementary School.

Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children

This training provides participants with 5 steps to better protect children from sexual abuse. Adults receive tools for recognizing signs of sexual abuse, responding to suspicions, and learn ways to minimize opportunities for abuse in our community. The workshop takes place on April 22, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Crooked River Elementary School.


Free Movie Event

Children and their caregivers are invited to this free movie event hosted by For the Children: Crook County's child abuse prevention team. Attendees will receive information on local child abuse prevention resources and tools. The event takes place at The Pine Theater on April 26 at 10 a.m.

Public and Permanent: Prevent Sexting, Cyber Bullying and Beyond!

Learn how to prevent digital issues like sexting, cyber bullying, irresponsible use of apps, poor social media behaviors, sexual exploitation and more. This workshop takes place on April 30, at the COCC-Crook County Open Campus, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There is no charge, but attendees are encouraged to bring donations of non-perishable food to be donated to the "Food 4 Kids" weekend backpack program of Crook County. This training is appropriate for ages 12 and up.

You may register for any of these events online at www.kidscenter.org.

For more information contact Terra Tyger at 541-350-8772.