Local organization steps up to help prevent child abuse and neglect

By Kaytlyn L. Sheldon

Special to the Herald Review

OSCEOLA and MECOSTA Counties – Three children, most under 5 years old, will die every twenty-four hours due to abuse and neglect in the United States.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month.

Child abuse occurs, on average, every 10 seconds nationwide.

Examples of physical child abuse include non-accidental shaking, hitting, beating, burning, or biting a child. Yelling excessively, shaming, as well as constantly blaming or putting down a child are instances of emotional child abuse. Sexual child abuse often consists of incest, any sexual activity with a minor, and exposure to sexual stimulation by a child.

Child neglect is a pattern of failure to provide for the child’s welfare, health, or physical needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; a pattern of failure to provide for the child.

According to the Michigan League for Human Services, 176,021 children between infancy to 17 years old are from families where an investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect occurred. Osceola County had 442 cases in 2009, while Mecosta County had 801.

Children from every background are being hurt every day in every city.

“Last year, there were 179 substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect in Mecosta County alone,” said Andrea Stickler, director of the Meceola Children’s Council (MOCC).

Osceola County had 52 confirmed cases of child abuse in 2009.

The purpose of the MOCC is to promote child abuse and neglect awareness in Mecosta and Osceola counties.

“MOCC is compiled of local agency representatives that work with at risk children and families,” said Stickler. “A big part of the MOCC is helping bring awareness and support to work that is already being done in our community.”

Membership is open to anyone concerned about child abuse and neglect.

You can help stop child abuse and neglect by becoming a volunteer and donating some of your time and talents to the projects MOCC sponsors.

“There are lots of events happening in April and we will be present at all of them!” said Strickler. “We are sponsoring a Shaken Baby Prevention program on April 19 as well as the Car Seat Clinic on April 28.”

The Meceola Children’s Council will also be taking part in the Blue Ribbons for Kids Campaign.

“We ‘plant’ blue pinwheels to promote awareness about child abuse and neglect,” explained Strickler.

Blue Sunday takes place on April 29. More information will follow soon.

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, contact the Department of Human Services Protective Services at (231) 796-4300 or call 911 after business hours.

For more information on the MOCC and events in April, call (231) 796-3543 ext. 467 or go to www.mocckids.com.