A group that has been studying child abuse and neglect is now focusing on preventing it and asking the community’s children for input.
The Daily Journal is joining with the St. Francois County Community Partnership and Children’s Haven to sponsor a contest seeking drawings and essays about families.
“We want children to draw pictures of memorable experiences with their family,” said Jim York, Daily Journal publisher. “And we’d like essays about family life – good or bad- or about caring adults – parents or someone who has been like a parent to the child.”
A selection of submitted essays and pictures will appear in a special section of the Daily Journal in October.
Children in kindergarten through youth in high school are asked to submit entries. They should include the person’s name, age and phone number. However, if the child does not wish to have his name published with his entry, he should include a letter stating that. Entries should be sent to Prevention Project, The Daily Journal, P. O. Box A, Park Hills, Mo., 63601. The deadline for entries is Sept. 17.
“What we’re hoping to get from these submissions is insight from children and teens about how to promote healthy families and prevent abuse and neglect,” said Meg Stevenson, Community Affairs Coordinator for Children’s Haven. “We’d like for teachers to encourage their classes to submit entries, or even make their submissions part of a class assignment.”
Statistics show overall reports of child abuse in St. Francois County have risen since 1998 from 890 then to 1,047 cases in 2003. A 2002 Kids Count Report put St. Francois County at 67.6 abuse and neglect cases per 1,000 children. Only nine counties and the city of St. Louis had higher rates.
Since last February, Stevenson and Al Sullivan of the St. Francois County Community Partnership have led a group of 80 community leaders, including York, in studying abuse and neglect. They first identified some of the causes of it – poverty, domestic violence, lack of transportation, inappropriate supervision, substance abuse and unstable home environments.
“We want to focus on public awareness of what abuse and neglect really are and then help implement positive initiatives that will lower the abuse and neglect rate in our community,” said York. “We’re hoping the pictures and essays written by the kids might give us some new ideas.”