Flourishing Families of Benton and Iowa Counties is an established group of over 20 members from all sectors of the counties dedicated to the prevention and awareness of child abuse and its causes in our communities. A local Community Partnership for the Protection of Children site since 2006, Flourishing Families holds true to the motto that “keeping children safe is everyone’s business.”
According to Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, in 2011 there were 11,747 children abused in our state. Half of those victims were children under the age of six. Denial of critical care (or neglect) accounts for nearly 80 percent (79.1) the state’s total abuse cases. The remaining abuse categories are as follows:
• Physical abuse of a child 9.6 percent
• Drug affected child 4.9 percent
• Sexual abuse 4.1 percent
• Sexual offender allowed access to child 1.2 percent
• Meth manufacturing near a child 0.9 percent
Benton County saw 58 confirmed cases of child abuse in 2011 with Iowa County coming in at 32. The denial of critical care rate for these two counties aligns with the state.
If you listen to national news, talk of the economy continues to be dismal, especially when paired with words like “Sequester, government shut downs, and slow-gaining housing markets.” Families continue to feel the pinch financially, which often opens the door for child abuse to enter what would normally be a happy, healthy home.
Denial of critical care (also known as neglect) accounts for four out of every five cases of child abuse. The majority of neglect cases are what’s called “situational neglect,” meaning a family is doing reasonably well but then something happens that causes a form of neglect. Perhaps one or both of the parents loses a job thus resulting in hungry, cold, or possibly homeless children. Less that 10 percent of the remaining neglect cases are associated with a lack of food, shelter, or clothing – these neglect cases are truly horrific. This type of neglect is often cyclical and is more often connected to lifelong poverty and/or the inability for the parent to make progress in their knowledge base.
The good news is that neglect is a type of child abuse that all can work together to easily solve.
• Springtime means time to clean out closets – why not take outgrown clothing to local groups like The Attic, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Williamsburg’s clothing distribution site. (The Attic is located at the church and is open Mondays and Thursdays during specific hours – please call 668-2288 for details).
• Shopping for groceries or toiletries? Pick up a few extra and donate them to the Benton County Food Pantry located at 303 1st Ave in Vinton (472-4743).
• Garage sale season is coming up quick … why not host a sale and donate a percentage of the profits to a local non-profit that serves families in the county?
• Your time is also appreciated. Volunteer opportunities exist for several of these assistance programs including food banks, church clothing closets, cook a meal for a local support group, the possibilities are endless.
Benton and Iowa Counties are fortunate that there are several services connected to assisting families to prevent denial of critical care. Most of these entities are operated with limited funding or exist solely because of the generosity of those in the community. United Way’s 211 First Call for Help Service can provide a comprehensive list of places in Benton and/or Iowa Counties for people to access items like food, clothing, rental assistance, tax preparation and assistance, transportation services, daycare providers, credit counseling, and so on. To learn more, please call 211 and speak to the operator or visit www.firstcallforhelpiowa.org. All communication is private and confidential – though they may ask for your zip code to better align you with services and for tracking purposes.