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Wear Blue, Help Prevent Child Abuse in Ohio

PHOTO: Blue is in fashion in Ohio today, as business, school and community groups wear the color to spread awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Photo courtesy of PCSAO.
PHOTO: Blue is in fashion in Ohio today, as business, school and community groups wear the color to spread awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Photo courtesy of PCSAO.
April 10, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It doesn't matter if it's indigo, navy or periwinkle. Whatever the shade, Ohioans are encouraged to don their best blue today to help prevent child abuse and neglect.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Patti-Jo Burtnett, public relations manager for Lorain County Children's Services, said her organization has seen a rise in child-abuse cases. For today's "Ohio Wears Blue" event, she said, organizations, businesses and individuals can show their commitment to keeping children safe.

"This is a really exciting opportunity for people all across Ohio to demonstrate that they are very interested in the well-being of children, both in their family and their relatives' families, and their communities," she said, "and bring this conversation into whatever group you belong to."

Child abuse comes in many forms and does not always appear in physical indicators such as bruises. Julie Malkin, public relations manager for Lucas County Children's Services, said adults need to pay close attention to the children in their lives and look for changes in behavior.

"They may not have words to tell you. They may not have the ability to tell you. They may be too scared to tell you," she said. "But as an adult, you need to be tuned in to what's going on with those kids and make sure you report when something isn't right."

People who suspect abuse, Malkin said, should call their local child-welfare agency.

"Talk it through with a caseworker on the phone to make sure that what you're seeing really is indeed - and that way, the responsibility is off of you to make that judgment," she said. "Allow the professionals to make that judgment, because we have a lot of very experienced people in Ohio in child welfare."

According to the Public Children's Services Association of Ohio, there were more than 100,000 reports of child abuse or neglect in the state in 2011.

Ohio has an automated telephone directory to link callers directly to a child-welfare or law-enforcement office in their counties. The number is 855-O-H-CHILD (855-642-4453).

Those who wear blue are encouraged to take a picture and share it on social media to spread the message that child abuse is preventable. Photos can be uploaded at facebook.com/WearBlueOhio.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH