April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and Child Safe of Central Missouri is encouraging people across its 11-county service area to take simple actions every day that make a difference in the lives of children.These “extraordinary ordinary” actions can be anything from organizing neighborhood activities to offering to babysit for a neighbor.

To kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month a special “Protect a Child – Plant a Pinwheel” ceremony will be held this Friday, April 1 at 10:00 a.m. on the Pettis County Courthouse lawn. Sedalia Mayor Stephen Galliher and Pettis County Presiding Commissioner David Dick will be reading a joint proclamation to declare April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“We are asking the community to come together to bring attention to the simple things that you and I can do to ensure great childhoods for all children in our community,” said Kimberly Allen, executive director of Child Safe. “Our children are our future, and if we work to make the ordinary extraordinary not just during April but every day, we can go a long way toward creating the kind of world where all children are celebrated and where abuse and neglect never occurs.”

Last year 400 children were seen for Forensic Interviews at Child Safe and at the kick off ceremony on Friday, 5th graders from Sedalia #200 will be planning 400 pinwheels to represent each of these children. Each pinwheel also represents an additional 10 children --- that’s 4,000 children who were seen by Missouri Children’s Division in Child Safe’s 11- county area for concerns of alleged abuse or neglect. This number is a real reminder that we must all strive to make our communities safer for children.

“You might not even realize that what you’re doing is enhancing the lives of the children and families you know,” said Allen. “Every time you knock on a neighbor’s door to see if they need help with babysitting or homework, or reach out to someone being bullied by refusing to be a witness, volunteer at a local school or other child-serving agency or even take a stand for a program or policy that you feel should be part of your community, you’re doing something extraordinary.” During April Child Safe and its partners want to encourage others to recognize the extraordinary things that others are doing, and hopefully by showing how often these kind of things are happening, we can make the idea of preventing child abuse and neglect every day a very ordinary one.”

To learn more about Child Safe of Central Missouri visit www.childsafehouse.org. “Envisioning a World Where Every Child is a Safe Child” is the desire of Child Safe of Central Missouri with a mission to provide a comprehensive, culturally competent, multi-disciplinary team response to allegations of child sexual abuse in a dedicated, child-friendly setting.

Child Safe seeks to minimize trauma suffered by the child due to multiple contacts with different community professionals; provide families with referrals for needed services; maintain open communication and case coordination among the agencies involved in child protection efforts; develop and promote prevention education programs for parents and caregivers; make available specialized training to enhance professional skills to effectively respond to child sexual and severe physical abuse; educate mandated reporters of their legal responsibilities under Missouri law; and provide an educational component to enhance community awareness and understanding of child sexual and physical abuse.

The eleven central Missouri counties that make up the Child Safe service area are Benton, Carroll, Chariton, Henry, Johnson, Lafayette, Linn, Morgan, Moniteau, Pettis and Saline.

Kurt Parsons