SYLACAUGA, Ala. – The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Tuesday morning Sylacauga City Hall hosted an event to raise awareness for the issue on its front lawn.

Many from the community attended the event presented by the Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama and the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement (SAFE). It featured a proclamation from Mayor Jim Heigl, and speeches from Sally Longshore, executive director of the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, and Nicole Parker, Talladega County DHR director.

In his proclamation, Heigl focused on parental alienation of their children. Parental alienation is a term used to describe any number of behaviors and attitudes on the part of one parent designed to interfere, damage or destroy the relationship a child has with their other parent. “It’s a form of abuse that causes emotional trauma to children,” stated Heigl. “Parental alienation deprives children of their right to freely love and be loved by both parents, their extended family, and robs children of their sense of security.”

Because he believes parental alienation is such a big problem in families today, Heigl proclaimed April 23-29, 2017, as Parental Alienation Prevention Week, and named April 25, 2017, as Parental Alienation Awareness Day. “Parental Alienation Awareness Week is intended to increase the knowledge and understanding of this problem to help Alabamians, institution, the legal and mental health community, and leaders to better identify and combat such abusive behavior to children,” Heigl proclaimed.

Parental alienation and other forms of child abuse are very prevalent in today’s society, and the statistics are eye opening. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, over 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States in 2015, and nearly 700,000 children are abused every year. Neglect is the most common form of abuse. Three-quarters (75.3%) of victims were neglected, 17.2 % were physically abused, and 8.4% were sexually abused.

The most common victims of any type of abuse are very young in age. The site says children in the first year of their life had the highest rate of victimization of 24.2 per 1,000 children in the national population of the same age. A parent  was the perpetrator in 78.1% of substantiated cases of child maltreatment.

After the speeches, people who attended the event released blue balloons in honor of child abuse victims.

Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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