ALAMOSA—Last year Alamosa County's Department of Human Services opened 120 child abuse cases. That high number is why the commissioners declared April 2017 as Child Abuse Prevention Month at Wednesday's meeting.
"It's a good time to reflect on child abuse," said Alamosa County Commissioner Michael Yohn. “So many times it goes unreported or unnoticed. The trafficking is something that really amazes me, as I was not aware of all the trafficking that goes on. That is very, very scary to me."
Alamosa County Commissioner Darius Allen is concerned about breaking the cycle of abuse.
"I see the numbers and it's discouraging that I don't see the numbers go the opposite way," Allen said. "That's why we fight so hard for dollars to have people to help. The sad thing is that so many of these kids live in households where it's become normal for them. If it's normal for them when they grow up then it'll be normal for their kids."
To show that the designation is more than words, DHS is partnering with the Children's Advocacy Center of the San Luis Valley and Tu Casa to hold a carnival on April 1 at Adams State University's fieldhouse.
"We're expecting approximately 400 kids and have been receiving donations from community members," said DHS Director Catherine Salazar. "The enthusiasm for the carnival is really impressive."
"I admire the idea that we can have a carnival that can bring some more public awareness," Alamosa County Commissioner Helen Sigmond said.
The complete proclamation reads:
"As a nation and as a community, it is our responsibility to build a safe and nurturing society so that our young people can realize their full potential. During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we renew our commitment to preventing child abuse and rededicate ourselves to working together to ensure that all children can have a bright and hopeful future.
"Whereas, preventing child abuse and neglect is a community problem that depends on involvement of all people throughout the community;
"Whereas, child abuse and neglect not only directly harms children but also increases the likelihood of long term physical and mental health problems, alcohol and substance abuse, continued family violence and criminal behavior;
"Whereas, child maltreatment occurs when people find themselves in stressful situations, without community resources and don't know hot to cope;
"Whereas, the majority of child abuse cases stem from situations and conditions that are preventable in an involved and supportive community;
"Whereas, child abuse and neglect can be reduced by making sure that each family has the support they need in raising their children in a safe and nurturing environment;
"Whereas, effective child abuse prevention programs succeed because of partnerships created among social service agencies, schools, faith-based communities, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies and the business community;
"Therefore, we do hereby proclaim April 2017 as Child Abuse Prevention Month in the County of Alamosa and call upon all citizens, community agencies, faith-based groups, and businesses to increase their participation and commitment in our efforts to support families and protect our children from abuse and neglect, helping to ensure that each child can grow up in a secure and loving environment."
Cutline: Alamosa County Commissioner Michael Yohn, County Commissioner Helen Sigmond, Department of Human Services Director Catherine Salazar and County Commissioner Darius Allen pose as the commissioners sign the proclamation.