Commonwealth Journal

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March 28, 2013

City kicks off Child Abuse Prevention Month


Somerset —

Wood said it takes an effort by all involved — law enforcement, health care workers, and the courts — to move through an investigation. And that’s especially when emergency protection orders are involved. Wood said judges will take phone calls at all hours about emergency custody requests, and a short hearing is held to determine whether emergency custody is warranted. 
Wood said children found to be in danger are removed from the home, preferably to a relative’s home, or to a foster care environment. 
“We want them to go to somebody who is related and safe,” Wood said. 
Wood said the end goal is always to unify the family. Although some situations may be so extreme it will never happen, Wood said plans are laid out, and perpetrators will undergo counseling and therapy in hopes of a family reunion. 
“The underlying goal is always to unify (the family),” Wood said. 
Wood said the most important part of preventing child abuse is always reporting a possible child abuse case — and she said child abuse isn’t just physical.
“Child abuse takes many, many, many different forms,” said Wood. “It comes in many different colors.” 
Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or environmental.
Wood said there have been times when abuse has been revealed as the underlying cause of a problem such as truancy (missing too many school days) or behavior issues.
Wood pointed out a well-known state law that requires reporting of any possible child abuse by health care workers, teachers, and authorities. But she said another part of that state statute also calls on every person — not just health care workers, teachers and police officers — to report possible abuse. 
“All of us have a gut,” said Wood. “All of us know when something’s not right. ... Don’t turn away. Look and see what’s going on. See if this child is in an appropriate environment.

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