Mental Health Awareness Month 2019: Child Abuse Prevention


May is Mental Health Awareness Month and research
shows that child abuse can have a lasting effect on a child’s mental health. My name is Keith Metz and I’m the Public Information
Specialist for the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services, which is part of our
Department of Human Services. Our fundamental aim at the Arkansas Department
of Human Services, or DHS, is to support and strengthen families in need. Preventing child abuse and neglect is one
of the areas where we play a role in strengthening families. Most people see child abuse prevention solely
as a function of child protective services, which in Arkansas is the responsibility of
the Division of Children and Family Services, or DCFS, but DHS programs in areas like child
care, medical services, and workforce services also play key roles in wrapping around families
and providing them with the help they need to provide their children with a safe, stable,
healthy family and environment every day. Anyone who suspects a child is being abused
or neglected should report their concerns. Some people, like doctors, day
care staff, teachers, and other school personnel are mandated reporters and must, by law, report child abuse and neglect. The Arkansas Child Maltreatment Act provides
the full list of mandated reporters. DCFS has a statewide Prevention and Reunification
Unit at its Central Office that coordinates trainings and other educational opportunities
for our local county staff, who in turn share that knowledge in their communities. There also are a wide variety of excellent
online resources available at www.childwelfare.gov. Simply go to the website and choose “Preventing
Child Abuse and Neglect” from the menu options. If you need to report suspected child abuse
or neglect, please call the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-482-5964. You may remain anonymous if you prefer.

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