MADISON — Boone County Circuit Judge William Thompson said those that deal with child abuse see things most could not even imagine.
“I have seen a two-year-old battered and abused by their parents,” he said. “I have seen drug addicted parents that do not properly care for their children. I am happy that most people in our community don’t have to see what those who deal with child abuse see on a daily basis.”
Cornerstone Family Interventions, Inc. , the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and The Honorable Judge Thompson,along with the Boone County Multi-Disciplinary Investigative Team (MDIT) joined the Child Welfare League of America in calling for the immediate cessation of violence against children and youth in America.
Every year in America, nearly 3 million children will be reported abused and neglected and more than 1,000 will die from abuse or neglect, according to official statistics.
These groups, along with members of the community joined countless others across the country during the month of April for Children’s Memorial Day 2014 to remember the thousands of children lost in the last year to violence.
A flag-raising and ceremony honoring those who deal with child abuse and neglect was held on Friday, April 18, 2014, at the Boone County Courthouse in Madison.
The symbol of this observance was the presentation and display of the Children’s Memorial Flag.
“The flag is a simple, moving image—a red field depicting blue, paper-doll-like figures of children holding hands. In the center, the white chalk outline of a missing child symbolizes the children lost to violence,” Thompson said. “This Children’s Flag Memorial Day will not only honor the children that have been lost or hurt, but will celebrate children who have been rescued and also honor local individuals for their contributions in helping to save the lives of Boone County children.”
Those honored included West Virginia State Trooper G.S. Walter, II; Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Ashley Keadle, Boone County Schools official Eddie Weikle, several workers with the Boone County Child Protective Services and Monica Ballard-Booth, Director of Cornerstone Family Interventions, Inc.
Judge Thompson said of all people in the county that work with abused and neglected children, Ballard-Booth was at the top of his list.
“All of these people honored and that are here today go above and beyond the call of duty,” he said. “Monica is one of those special people that does so much for these children. She is an advocate for thousands of children that would be lost to us without her and her dedication and efforts.”
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
This month and throughout the year, the Boone County MDIT encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Boone County a better place for children and families by ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child maltreatment within families and communities,” Ballard-Booth said.
“April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children,” Ballard-Booth added. “Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors, in every interaction with children and families, is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development.”
She said that research shows that when parents possess six protective factors, the risk for neglect and abuse diminish and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted.
Ballard-Booth says the six protective factors are:
* Nurturing and attachment
* Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
* Parental resilience
* Social connections
* Concrete supports for parents
* Social and emotional developmental well-being
Other speakers at the event included a prayer by Boone County Commissioner Atholl Halstead; Welcome by Monica Ballard-Booth, Director, Cornerstone Family Interventions, Inc.; Gary Barker, Community Service Manager, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; Ellen Browning, We Can Director, Children’s Home Society; and words from Justin Marlowe, Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
Also represented was the Color Guard by C/SSgt Larry Copen and Airman Basic Jarod Puckett, Boone County Civil Air Patrol, and “I Forgive You” by Cameron Reeve.
Pinwheel Blowing! With the children and Pinwheel coloring sheet drawing, explained by 13-year-old Avery Perry of Chapmanville Middle School.
Also, the reading of Governor Tomblin’s Proclamation deeming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month; Presentation of Awards by Honorable Judge William Thompson.
Refreshments followed at the Boone County DHHR.
In support of these efforts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, its Child Welfare Information Gateway, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, and the Center for the Study of Social Policy - Strengthening Families have created Making Meaningful Connections 2014 Resource Guide. The guide, designed for service providers who work throughout the community to strengthen families, is available on Information Gateway’s website: https://childwelfare.gov/preventing/preventionmonth/resource-guide/