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Child abuse big problem locally

By Staff | Apr 13, 2014

Children First, a group in Faribault County, is excited to host a pancake breakfast on April 19.

But, what this group does isn’t all fun and games. Their goal is to raise awareness of a very important topic which may go unnoticed here in Faribault County.

Ann Huntley, Blue Earth Area High School social worker and member of Children First, says people can all help to prevent child abuse.

“We just have to start by caring about children in our neighborhoods,”?she says.

And Children First aims to educate the public about ways to do that.

Here in Faribault County, during the year 2013, there were 216 reports of child abuse involving 313 children.

Of those cases, 57.9 percent were cases of neglect, 31.5 percent were physical abuse and 12.5 percent were cases of sexual abuse.

“The total percentage comes out to over 100 because many cases contain more than one type of abuse or neglect,” Huntley explains.

Huntley goes on to say many people are afraid to reach out for help because they think they will get in trouble or get someone else in trouble.

But, in many cases, parents just need support.

“There’s lots of resources here in the county,”?Huntley says. “And people don’t realize it.”

One major way people in the community can help with some cases is just by being friendly within the neighborhood. “Being a parent is full of responsibilities and sometimes people begin to struggle and do not know how to ask for help,” Huntley explains.

She says by simply getting to know others within your neighborhood one would open up a door for communication for a parent or child who is possibly struggling.

Doing so also makes it easier to see the signs of a child who may be involved in a case of some type of abuse.

“A lot of times people just think someone else will take care of it,” Huntley says. “But if you have legitimate concerns you should report it.”

Reports submitted are all anonymous. However, Huntley hopes that many cases can be caught before they need to be reported so the family can be helped.

“This is not about taking kids away from parents,” she says. “That is not what we want to do.”

So, in an effort to raise awareness, the group Children First tries to find new ways to reach out and educate the community.

The group was formed 20 years ago and was made possible by a grant through the state of Minnesota. Unfortunately about five years ago, the group stopped receiving that money and have been operating off of donations since.

Now, on Saturday, April 19, the group will be holding its very first fundraiser. However, raising money is not their goal at all.

“This is all about raising awareness,”?she says. “And getting families together to have fun.”

The event will be held from 8-11 a.m. at the Blue Earth Public Safety Center. There will be pancakes served and after the meal families can get their faces painted, do some finger painting and get a balloon animal.

The breakfast is free to the public and freewill donations will be accepted to support Children First.

“We had wanted to do two events this year, one in Blue Earth and then one in Wells to include the towns and communities on the other side of the county,”?Huntley says.

However, they will only be doing one in Blue Earth this year and will hold the event on the other side of the county next year.

“We had a huge goal but we’re all just volunteers,”?she says. “We are all just a bunch of people who care about children.”