Child abuse still a part of Greenbrier County life

Child Abuse in Greenbrier County was the focus of a proclamation from the Greenbrier County Commission during their Tuesday, April 12, meeting.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Terri White of the Children’s Home Society approached the commission with a request for the annual pinwheel display honoring the children affected by abuse, apathy, and neglect.

“I want to touch on a number of things that are very important as far as the children in our community are concerned,” said White. “Nelson Mandela once said ‘we owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear.’ That is so true. In the last year alone, approximately 300 children have come through our system in Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, and Pocahontas counties. Just since January 1, we’ve had 20 new abuse and neglect cases.”

White explained that West Virginia children are suffering through an epidemic of child abuse and neglect.

“We can’t deny that – there are over 7,000 of West Virginia’s children in the foster care system alone,” White said. “That is, in large part, due to substance abuse. Although children of all ages are affected by child abuse, it’s our younger kids who are most easily manipulated. They are most easily targeted. That’s why almost 27 percent of the victims of child abuse and neglect are under the age of three years old.”

Abuse is an issue that crosses class, race, sexuality, gender, and assumed socio-economic status.

“No group of children is immune to child abuse,” White said. “Statistics show us that girls are more often abused sexually than boys, but as far as child abuse goes as a whole, child abuse is very even, [affecting] boys as well as girls. Every child in this nation, but especially our children that we’re responsible for taking care of, deserve to grow up in a safe and stable and nurturing environment. Whether that’s in their home, or in foster care, or through adoption, we owe that to them.”

White explained the one bright spot in the troubling situation.

“CASA reports that just in the last year, they’ve had 62 children achieve permanency,” White said. “Whether that means they’ve gone back to their biological families or they’ve been adopted. It’s not all doom and gloom. What I would ask today is that you all join Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Children’s Home Society, Child and Youth Advocacy Center, Davis Stuart, the Family Refuge Center, and every agency that’s involved in helping children receive that permanency in Child Abuse Prevention Month.”

A ceremony honoring these victims will take place in the Lewisburg Green Space this year, as opposed to its traditional location in front of the Greenbrier County Courthouse. This is due to construction related to the courthouse expansion project and safety concerns.

“We set the pinwheels out to serve [as representations] of the children we have served in [our four] counties,” White said.

The commission approved a proclamation supporting the county’s affected children.

“Child abuse can have long-term psychological, emotional, and physical affects that have lasting consequences for victims of abuse. Protective factors are conditions that reduce or eliminate risks and promote the social, emotional, and developmental wellbeing of children. Affective child abuse prevention activities success because of the partnership between child welfare professionals, education, health, community, faith-based organizations, businesses, agencies, and families. Communities must make every effort to promote programs and activities that create strong and thriving children and families,” the proclamation states.

In other business:

– Last week was National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, with County Commission President Lowell Rose saying, “we do appreciate everyone at the 911 center and emergency services, as well as everybody else. This is for the operators at the 911 Center. It’s a really stressful job, especially if … someone’s been shot or there’s been a bad accident. We appreciate their hard work and the time they put in.”

– The commission voted two to one on an ongoing annual $200,000 agreement with the Greenbrier Humane Society. McClung voted against. In previous years, McClung has criticized the commission only funding the agreement with the Humane Society, feeling other nonprofits do work for the county good without the funding.

– The Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office was approved to hire William Tyler Cutlip as a new deputy. In addition, a new hire was approved for the circuit clerk’s office.

– A $1,000 grant will be used to put more books in the Quinwood Public Library.

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