LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Coulee Region Child Abuse Prevention Task Force is holding a number of events designed to educate, and bring children and adults together in a fun and memorable way.
"It's twofold," said Nicole Milliren, Clinical Therapist at La Crosse County Human Services. "One is about educating the community about how maltreatment affects children but then also interjecting the fun parts of being a parent. And that even those parents who are raising children with emotional and behavioral needs, with physical needs, that we can stop for a moment and give them moments of joy. That is priceless."
Since child maltreatment is such a heavy topic, it isn't always talked about. Milliren said that many people aren't even aware that it is an issue in the community. And maltreatment can take many forms.
"Neglect is actually our highest rate of referrals," said Milliren. "And neglect, actually, the impact that neglect has on our neurological system and the brain of a child, sometimes can have more of an impact than physical abuse would have."
Milliren said the most common offenders of maltreatment are the caregivers that children live with. She believes that isolation and lack of resources, services, and support are some of the main causes behind child abuse and neglect.
"Families that are struggling. Because it's not that these families don't love their kids. A lot of time it's about lack of resources, definitely about lack of support," said Milliren. "If you feel isolated and alone and you're depleted of all energy, it's really hard to have good responses and appropriate responses in those moments. And sometimes parents make some bad choices. Not that they are fully intending to not be good parents at that time, but a lot of times are just pushed to their edge of what their capabilities are. And if they don't have people or services to support them, some neglect and maltreatment can happen."
This Friday, 1,700 pinwheels will be planted at the La Crosse YMCA. These pinwheels represent the 1,700 children who were affected by abuse or neglect last year in La Crosse County alone.
"It's really a visual for the community to see 1,700 pinwheels blowing in the wind," said Milliren. "That's 1,700 children that were part of a referral that came to La Crosse, County. That's 1,700 children that are part of a family that need help. That lack resources, lack support. That's 1,700 children that would benefit from one more adult in their life… Even if their family life is bad, if they knew that they had one person in their life that they could call no matter what. 1,700 children need that in our community."
"Pinwheels for prevention" will occur on Friday, April 5th at 4pm at the La Crosse YMCA. For details on this event and other child abuse prevention events in April, you can visit the Coulee Region Child Abuse Prevention Task Force facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CRCAPTF. Fliers can be found under the "photos" section.
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