Cheryll Jones is calling for community involvement in protecting Davis County’s kids from mental and physical abuse and providing resources to strengthen families during April, Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Jones is chairperson of Davis County’s Child Abuse Prevention Council, which works year-round with Davis County Schools, Davis County Law Enforcement, mental health organizations, and other entities to improve the lives of Davis County’s children.
“As a council, we have concerns about the mental health of our children,” Jones said. “The Children’s Hospital Association and the Association of Child Psychiatrists and Psychologists say there is a crisis in this area.
“We are seeing anxiety and depression in a significant number of children, and the pandemic has exacerbated this. Lots of kids have lost important adults in their families due to COVID.”
Jones said some believe the nasty and rude behaviors exhibited in today’s world are resulting from the constant electronic communication that has been substituted for face-to-face contact, partially due to the pandemic.
“Filters tend to be removed with electronic communication,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll see less of this as we get back to gathering more in person.”
Jones said overall Davis County is fortunate that many of the county’s entities are working to help kids.
“This community’s schools are doing so much,” she said. “I was in a group that met regarding the school’s ‘Handle with Care’ program and there’s no question they are involved in providing for the kids’ needs.”
The school also has counselors who care and social-emotional learning (SEL) instructors who are there to help as needed, Jones said.
Jones is impressed with the way Davis County’s law enforcement officers are stepping up. Law enforcement officers are often the first ones to alert the school that a child has encountered a traumatic experience and should be handled with care.
“Our officers support kids,” she said.
A new group, Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), is also stepping up to help kids. Several members of BACA will be at Brothers Market parking lot from 10am-2pm on April 16 to educate the public about the need to stand up for kids, and they will be displaying blue pin wheels — the symbol for Child Abuse Prevention Month. One of the ways BACA supports kids is to attend court hearings with them.
The religious community in Davis County is another great resource for supporting youth, Jones said. “We’ve even reached out to the churches and asked them to say special prayers during Child Abuse Prevention Month.”
Jones is employed as a pediatric nurse practitioner with University of Iowa Childhood Specialty Clinics in Ottumwa and frequently works with children who need support.
Anyone wanting more information on Child Abuse Prevention and support services may contact her at [email protected] or call 641-682-8145. Her office is at 123 E. Third Street (the second floor of the US Bank Building) in Ottumwa. She is in her office from 7 am — 5:30 pm Monday through Thursday.
Watch for more articles in The Bloomfield Democrat during April relating to mental and physical abuse and how the community is working to solve those problems.
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