According to the latest data released by Family Connection of Gordon County, nearly 450 cases of child maltreatment were reported to Gordon County Department of Family and Children Services and Child Protective Services in 2010.
Out of those cases, 40 were screened out, 178 were assigned to Family Support and 225 were accepted for service and investigated, according to Family Connection of Gordon County; among these children 31.6 percent were under the age of four-years-old.
The documents also reported that 21 percent were between the ages of four and six-years-old.
While these statistics might alarm the community, the facts are the facts.
Director of Prevent Child Abuse Gordon County Carol Vedrody said that it is important to know when to speak up on behalf of a child who may fall prey to mistreatment.
“It’s important to know the signs,” said Vedrody. “If you see marks on the child, or hear people screaming, then you should pay attention.”
Sometimes it may not even be a mark or something that is overheard, but that feeling that everyone has from time-to-time, she said.
“Listening to that ‘Uh oh’ feeling you get sometimes, you should always listen to that,” said Vedrody. “
She went on to say that being a friend to someone could make all the difference in the world.
“There is a fine line between being friendly and being nosey,” explained Vedrody. “Sometimes you have to be friends with that person that is hard to be friends with; everyone needs a friend.”
She also mentioned that people tend to think the worst when it comes to child maltreatment, but oftentimes parents need to be assured that everything is okay, especially those that may seem overwhelmed.
“There are resources in Gordon County that parents can use when they feel overwhelmed,” said Vedrody. “Take your kids to the Boys and Girls Club, or if you are someone who thinks that something is not quite right, offer to baby-sit and let the parents have a break.”
She said that in the less severe cases, it’s not abuse that is an issue, but being able to provide proper nutrition and day-to-day needs for a child.
Vedrody said if someone finds himself or herself in need, then they should visit a food bank such as the Voluntary Action Center (VAC) in Calhoun to get assistance.
Now, with HB 1176 being passed, those involved with taking care of children are required by law to report any signs of abuse as of July 1, 2012.
In the unfortunate event that a child is being severely maltreated, then the Department of Family and Children Services should be contacted immediately at 706-624-1200.