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Child Abuse Prevention Day – “House Calls” Can Make All the Difference

November 19, 2007

Charleston, WV – At least one in 50 West Virginia children is a victim of child abuse or neglect, according to state statistics. But there's some good news on this "World Child Abuse Prevention Day" -- there are proven ways to build strong families and stop abuse before it starts.

Jim McKay, state coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia, calls family education a top priority for prevention. It includes voluntary home visits to help at-risk moms and dads develop their parenting skills, and connect them to resources like health care and job training.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 40 percent of all child maltreatment could be prevented if home visiting was widely available; and it's not as widespread as we'd like to see it in West Virginia."

There's been a recent increase in state funding for home visits, but it is still available in only 13 of West Virginia's 55 counties and, even in those counties, McKay says the need is greater than the availbility. He explains everyone can help build better families and prevent child abuse. One of the most important safeguards is being part of a strong community, with people to turn to when help is needed.

"If someone is isolated and on their own, they're more likely to make a bad choice as a parent and have bad consequences. If they have family, friends, neighbors that they can rely on, or they're part of a community of faith, they have connections, and that can be a key factor."

He adds quality child care programs and access to vital services, including health care, also reduce the overall incidence of child abuse.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WV