On Sunday, May 2, at the First Baptist Church in Salem, a special presentation about child abuse was given by the Division of Children and Family Services, part of the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
The growing problem of child abuse and neglect prompted this seminar, whose goal was to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect and help local residents understand the issue and learn ways to help.
Child abuse is defined as repeated mistreatment or neglect of a child by their parent or guardian resulting in injury or harm. Child abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual in nature.
Some of the causes of child abuse relate to stress in the parent's lives caused by several factors, including immaturity, unrealistic expectations, unmet emotional needs, financial crisis, lack of parenting knowledge or skills and drug and alcohol problems in the home.
To help break the abuse cycle, the community as a whole needs to become aware of the problem and take steps to prevent it.
It's important to use caution and good sense when identifying child abuse. Every parent can make an error in judgement and action some of the time, but when it becomes plain that a pattern of abuse is occurring, then it's time to call for help.
The Arkansas Child Abuse hotline number is 1-800-482-5964. Many people fear that reporting abuse may destroy a family, but the truth is getting that family the help it needs can make it stronger and healthier in the long run.
The presentation also touched on the need for Foster and Adoptive parents in our area. Currently there are an average of 3,000 children in the Arkansas State Foster Care system. All of these children would benefit greatly from the care of loving parents. Families are needed most at this time for the following children:
* Caucasian children over 9 years of age;
* African American children of all ages;
* Children with serious medical and/or emotional conditions;
* Sibling groups of three or more children who must be placed in the same family.
Some of the requirements for being a Foster or Adoptive parent are:
* Age: Foster parent applicants must be between 21 and 65. Adoptive parents must be between 21 and 55.
* Preparation: Both foster and adoptive parents are required to participate in and complete pre-service training.
* Marital Status: Singles or married couples may be foster or adoptive parents. Married couples must have been married at least two years.
* Background Checks: Criminal background and child abuse/neglect registry checks are required.
If you are interested in becoming a Foster or Adoptive parent, contact the Division of Children and Family Services at 870-895-3309.