In 1983, president Ronald Reagan formally designated April Child Abuse Prevention Month. 36 years later, people are still combating child abuse and neglect, even in North Dakota.
By Frank Turner
Data from the Department of Human Services found that, “In 2014, there was 1,616 children in North Dakota who were determined to be victims of child abuse or neglect.”
Adams County Social Services Director Cheryl Dix said that child abuse and neglect is something that everyone should be aware of.
“We need to be creative, to find ways to help safety for children and families,” said Dix. “There will always be situations where certain interventions need to be put into place to ensure the safety of children.”
In last five years, the number of child abuse and neglect reports has steadily increased. Using data from the North Dakota Department of Human Services and Children and Family Services, kidscount.org found that just as recently as 2018 there were 2,097 victims of child abuse and neglect in North Dakota alone.
The report counted instances where services were required to address child abuse or neglect. The report derived their data from instances where, “a high level of risk [was] determined to exist for the child(ren) and/or the family’s needs [were] such that immediate service is required in order to lesson the safety risk.”
Adams County Social Service Director Cheryl Dix said that the increase in statistic regarding child abuse and neglect correlates with North Dakota’s “oil boom.”
“In our state, especially in rural areas. Increases drug use and mental health issues combined with limited resources to address the problems are what have really impacted the increase,” said Dix. “We are always seeing more complex or difficult situations.”
To spread awareness for the growing issue, Social Services has rallied behind the blue pinwheels as a symbol of awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Throughout the month of April, the local Social Services office has the blue pinwheels all over their office and lawn.
“I want people to know that Social Services is just trying to offer people support and education,” said Dix.