April kicks off Child Abuse Awareness Month | NevadaAppeal.com
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April kicks off Child Abuse Awareness Month

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group
Shannon Ernst, left, director of Churchill County Social Services, and her daughter Jordan plant pinwheels Friday at Millennium Park.
Steve Ranson/LVN

Shannon Ernst and her daughter, Jordan, spent Friday morning planting blue and white pinwheels to commemorate Child Abuse Awareness Month.

During their hour at Millennium Park across from the Churchill County Courthouse, they planted pinwheels and a few signs.

Meanwhile, across town, other volunteers were doing the same to promote the awareness though Pinwheels for Prevention and Go Blue Day.

Because of the restrictions placed in Nevada for public gatherings, she said this year’s Child Awareness Prevention Month will be recognized by the pinwheels, personal testimonies and programs announced on social media. Any activities or the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribes walk from Oats Park to Fox Peak will not be conducted this year.

Ernst, director of Churchill County Social Services, said 437 reports were received in 2019.

The first national day to bring awareness occurred 27 years ago, but each year agencies receive numerous reports of child abuse. Both the city of Fallon and Churchill County Commission co-sponsored a proclamation recognizing April as Child Abuse Awareness Month. Mayor Ken Tedford read the proclamation on Facebook, while commission Chairman Pete Olsen read the proclamation during last week’s meeting.

In essence, the proclamation states, “effective child abuse prevention strategies succeed because of partnerships created among citizens, human service agencies, schools, faith communities, health care providers, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies and the business community; and studies have continuously shown that child abuse and neglect have far reaching consequences to victims, families, the community and the economy.”

Furthermore, Tedford and Olsen said the county has a goal to ensure safety for its residents of all ages, and work in partnership with other agencies and organizations.

Sue Sevon, court administrator for District Court Judge Thomas Stockard, said the court handles neglect and abuse cases when children are removed from the home. Volunteers from Court Appointed Special Advocates assist children from the beginning after they are removed.

As of Friday, Sevon said Churchill County CASA is currently serving 30 children. From May 1, 2019 to April 3, she said five cases have been closed with adoptions; seven cases closed with reunifications and no guardianships.

Sevon said CASA has received generous support from the community:

• Amanda Hammond and her Team at H&H Specialty Supply LLC shopped specifically for 15 of CASA children, providing them with new back packs and totes filled with items ranging from jackets, plush throws and toys, educational items such as books and items specifically requested by the children in care.

• Pam Yost of the Cranberry Cottage and Oasis Academy National Honor Society donated 40 coats for CASA children.

• Oasis Academy Middle School Council and Oasis High School Council donated more than 120 pairs of pajamas to replenish the CASA “Kid’s Kloset” during their annual pajama drives.

• Berney Realty held their fifth annual pajama drive, donating about 75 pairs of pajamas as well as many pairs of socks and underwear for all age groups. Additionally, Berney Realty donated 20 plush teddy bears and other assorted stuffed animals for the Toy Closet.

• Fallon Chamber of Commerce donated 15 plush throws for emergency grab and go bags for children.

• New Millennium Building Systems hosted a charity drive for CASA, collecting a variety of comfort items to fill about 25 emergency grab-and-go bags for community children in need.

• Kids Kloset is used throughout the DCFS district which includes Churchill, Lyon, Pershing and Nye counties.

• Toy closet has served 40 children.

Justice of the Peace Ben Trotter of the New River Township delivered comments via social media. Trotter said his father was violent toward several children in their household. Trotter said April is very important for him to address the topic. He said abused children have no way to defend themselves other than to speak out. He said everyone should keep children in the forefront of their thoughts.

With children home because of the directive issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak, Trotter said children and their parents will be together in the house.

“This is an opportunity to spend quality time with your kids,” Trotter said.

Trotter said families can spend time away from the maddening crowd to do activities together to break the boredom. The judge emphasized he doesn’t want to see parents take out their frustrations on their children.

“There is something we can do about it,” Trotter said of child abuse.

He said people can speak up and report child abuse to the authorities.