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Preventing child abuse takes a village

Thursday, the Douglas County Council on Child Protection pulled the community together to kick off National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

Thursday, the Douglas County Council on Child Protection pulled the community together to kick off National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

"Let's be defenders of our children," District Attorney Dan Blank, a council member, told those assembled in the Government Center atrium.

It was a day to celebrate children, who had something of their own to say.

"Hands are not for hitting," kindergarten students from Cathedral School told the audience. Instead, the children said, they can be used for many useful things.

"Playing with friends," said Teagan Radtke.

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"Praying," added Bailey Revering.

"Helping," said Aili Arnovich.

"Baseball," Stephanie Paine and Lilly Gidley said in unison.

Not all people use their hands constructively. In 2008, there were 845 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect in Douglas County. That number was down from the 985 in 2007, said Douglas County Board Chairman Doug Finn.

"That's either good news or people aren't reporting things," he said.

According to Shannon Jarecki, children's program coordinator for the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASDA), the number of child abuse cases the agency tackles has stayed pretty consistent.

"We work between quite a few agencies to make sure awareness is out there," she said. "Maybe the message is finally getting out."

The council is continuing to take a proactive stance this year.

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"If you can keep a kid from going through trauma and hurt, that's what you want," Jarecki said.

Five "Tools for Parenting" sessions are planned during April. The free, weekly classes deal with topics ranging from talking to your teen about dating to making chores fun. No registration is necessary and refreshments are provided. Weekly articles in the Telegram will offer tips on the upcoming topics for parents.

In addition, a class for day care and community service providers on what happens after child abuse is reported will take place from 6-8 p.m. April 16. Registration is required.

Family Fun calendars are also being distributed throughout the community, giving parents a list of daily activities to do with their children.

Saturday, for instance, families are encouraged to discover a new food. On Sunday, they are asked to put together a scavenger hunt.

Douglas County foster parents Jill and Richard Widell, who were unable to attend, were honored with the council's annual Friend of Children Award.

Finn encouraged all adults to be positive role models and told the kindergartners to treat each other with respect.

"It takes all of us to get the job done," said Superior Mayor Dave Ross.

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The weekly "Tools for Parenting" sessions, are as follows:

  • April 7, Positive Parenting from 5:30-6:15 p.m. at Northern Lights School.
  • April 7, 6:30-7:05 p.m., Dating: Talking to Your Teen, Northern Lights School.
  • April 14, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Making Chores Fun, Northern Lights School.
  • April 21, 6-7:30 p.m. Internet Safety, Northern Lights School.
  • April 27, 6:30-8:30, Keeping Kids Safe, Superior Public Library.
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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