Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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April 9, 2014

Battling abuse through services — As long as a child needs protection, due to an environment where their needs aren’t being met, April will be Child Abuse Prevention Month.

However, this month is not so much about prevention through punishment, but focusing on ways to help those responsible for the care of children.

Such a monumental task is too much for agencies like the Department of Human Services. Support at the local level, like Pauls Valley Healthy Beginnings Supervisor Betsy White, is required.

“We target families that have a greater risk to promote services. How to report it and who’s responsible for reporting, so we can reduce the problems,” said White. “We enjoy going out and working with the families.”

So much of White’s job at the McClain-Garvin County Youth & Family Center is educating people how to spot when there is neglect. This may be a teacher or someone else outside the immediate family involved in the child’s life noticing a change in behavior.

She pointed out that reports are first explored to make sure a problem is solved instead of allowed to worsen overtime.

White is also trying to overcome the stigma where people feel they are bad parents after a report of neglect has been filed. She said a lot of these things come down to people being overwhelmed by stress and not knowing there is help or a place to turn to for assistance.

“It’s not our job to determine if child abuse is going on, but know if things need to be reported,” said White.

“We can each protect children by making that report… We may only see half the things actually going on.”

White noted how this help can be in the form of a parenting class for those who may not be ready for what comes with raising a child. It can also be providing supplies or other needs for parents who may not be able to afford it due to financial struggles.

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