Chautauqua County Stands United to Raise Awareness for National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Submitted by Justin Gould on Mon, 03/25/2024 - 17:02

JAMESTOWN NY – Child Abuse Prevention Month kicked off early in Jamestown with a rally at City Hall on Monday, where community members came together, acknowledging the importance of creating a supportive environment for children to thrive.
April is recognized as Family Strength and Support Month, the month-long campaign formally recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month highlighting the crucial importance of protecting children and providing support to families. Throughout this month, communities unite to raise awareness, promote prevention strategies, and advocate for the safety and well-being of all children.
Saraden Randall from the Chautauqua Child Advocacy Program, Jamestown Mayor Kim Ecklund, Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt, and Chautauqua County's Department of Mental Hygiene and Social Services Director, Carmelo Hernandez, addressed the community during the kickoff event. Additionally, Jamestown Public Schools Justice for All students Thomas Gessey and Joshua Skinner also addressed the crowd.
Hernandez specifically highlighted the pivotal role of the community in supporting families in need, stating, “This month serves as a poignant reminder of the vital partnership between our community and families requiring additional support. It truly takes collective effort to nurture and uplift our children, and we all share the responsibility to ensure families in Chautauqua County thrive.”
According to the New York State Central Registry, in 2023, Chautauqua County received 2,603 reports of child abuse necessitating investigation. Of these reports, 21% were substantiated by DSS, indicating credible evidence supporting allegations of abuse or maltreatment.
“Working alongside partners from the Child Advocacy Program, my office is committed to combating child abuse by treating these crimes with the utmost seriousness and working closely with law enforcement to crack down on offenders,” District Attorney Jason Schmidt affirmed. “Protecting our children is paramount, and we will tirelessly pursue justice for victims while holding perpetrators accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
In a bid to enhance awareness, Chautauqua County is leading the annual Pinwheel for Prevention campaign by “planting” pinwheel gardens across the county. Symbolizing hope, health, and happiness of childhood, the pinwheel serves as a poignant emblem of child abuse prevention.
“Pinwheel gardens not only raises awareness but also instills a sense of empowerment and responsibility. All community members have a role in ensuring children have positive experiences, and families have the resources they need when they need them, well before they are in crisis.” Randall emphasized. “The pinwheels represent planting seeds of hope. Hope for a better future for our community. To continue to grow, learn, and thrive.”
Attendees, including students from Jamestown High School, participated in planting gardens not only at City Hall, but also, embarked on a symbolic walk to the nearby school, to plant gardens.
“This collective effort not only beautified public spaces but also served as a powerful demonstration of solidarity in raising awareness about child abuse prevention within both the municipal and educational communities,” said Jamestown Mayor Kim Ecklund. “Through these actions, participants emphasized the importance of fostering safe and supportive environments for children at every level of society.”
In addition to Jamestown’s event, two more Pinwheel plantings are scheduled in April:
- April 11, 2024, at 1 pm: Chautauqua Municipal Building, 2 Academy Street, Mayville, N.Y.
- April 17, 2024, at 1 pm: Dunkirk City Hall, 342 Central Ave, Dunkirk, NY 14048.
For more information on protecting children from abuse and neglect, please visit preventchildabuseny.orgchqgov.com/humansocial-services/children-family-services, or contact capjustice.org. If you believe a child is being abused or maltreated, you can help by making a call to the NY State Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-342-3720.
Residents are encouraged to wear blue on April 3, 2024, in solidarity with efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect. All pinwheel planting events are open to the public.
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