Multiple proclamations declared

Members of the Tucker County Commission on Thursday designated April to officially be Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

April Miller, representing the Tucker County Family Resource Network, and Heather Fowler, representing Women’s Aid In Crisis, both addressed the commissioners with their proposals.

Miller said the FRN works with other agencies, including WAIC, in addition to Children’s Advocacy Center and local religious and educational groups.

There are several educational programs conducted by FRN, Miller said. Talking About Touching is a program that helps teach kids in pre-K through second grades about appropriate ways to touch and how to refuse and report inappropriate touches.

Darkness to Light is a program geared toward adults that accomplishes many of the same goals as Talking About Touching, but it shows parents how to identify when a child has been inappropriately touched and how to report incidents to the proper authorities.

Miller said there is a move in the FRN toward a greater amount of education for children and adults. Commissioner Diane Hinkle said she likes that educational materials are being utilized.

Fowler said WAIC will be using the month of April to promote awareness about sexual assault.

The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event will be April 20 in the Parson City Park, and several Tucker County public officials have agreed to walk a mile in high heels through the park.

She said WAIC provides help for people – not just women – who are victims of abuse of any kind, be it physical, sexual, psychological or economic.

Commissioner Mike Rosenau said he supports efforts made by WAIC officials, but he is concerned that there is no central phone number at their office in Tucker County. Presently, Fowler is being contacted on her personal cell phone.

Sharon Bedford, the executive director of the Randolph/Tucker County Children’s Advocacy Center, spoke to the Commission about a similar topic.

“Our primary mission is to serve children who are victims of abuse,” she said.

Bedford said the CAC works from a multi-disciplinary model where different groups in a child’s life are brought together to combine their individual services. For instance, family members, school officials and law enforcement can work together through the CAC.

The combination of groups allows a child to tell his story only once, saving him from the embarrassment and struggle of recounting his experiences multiple times.

Prevention is completed through programs like Body Safety Training, which is offered in schools for kids in Pre-K through 2nd grades. In such classes, safe and unsafe activities are discussed and role playing is used.

Kids are taught that they have the right to say “no” if they don’t want to be touched, she said. They are also taught who they can contact when they need to tell an adult that they have been inappropriately touched.

Rosenau exclaimed his appreciation for the efforts of CAC workers.

“If we can help one child, it’s worth it,” he said.