Cass County hosting workshop about child abuse prevention

CASSOPOLIS — April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. To recognize the designation, two Cass County agencies have partnered to host an event designed to help individuals spot and prevent child abuse.

The Cass County Youth Council and Great Start Collaborative have partnered to host a workshop from noon to 1:30 p.m. April 21 titled “Breaking the Deadly Silence: Changing the Silent Culture of Trauma and Abuse.” The free program will be hosted virtually, and registration can be found by searching “Cass County Child Abuse Prevention Workshop” on Eventbrite.com.

The event will be led by Kevin McNeil, a motivational speaker, victim advocate, author and founder of The Twelve Project, an organization that educates the world on the effects of trauma and abuse on individuals, families and
communities.

McNeil is a retired special victim’s detective with the DeKalb County, Georgia Police Department. According to his website, McNeil created The Twelve Project to “be the bridge between the lack of knowledge and awareness about abuse and people’s desire to learn.”

Anna Carter, Cass County Great Start Collaborative director, said the event would educate participants on how to not only look for the signs of abuse and neglect but how to listen for them as well.

“It will educate on how to respond better when we do see [child abuse and neglect] when advocating for children,” Carter said.

Leigh Feldman, president of the Cass County Youth Council, said the program was created with industry professionals in mind but that anyone was welcome to register and attend the virtual event.

“Every year, the Youth Council typically hosts a luncheon in April for the community professionals who are involved with child abuse prevention,” she said. “This year, with COVID, we weren’t going to be able to host a luncheon, so we began looking at a virtual event. … Unfortunately, [child abuse] is something that is never going to go away fully, so it’s important that we are aware of it and are reminded what to look for and keep our eyes out for potential higher-risk factors that can lead to child abuse and neglect. Then, we, especially as professionals in the field,  canidentify those and help prevent child abuse and neglect.”

Feldman said she hopes the community and agency professionals will benefit from the program and leave with both new knowledge and a renewed sense of purpose in the work that they do for Cass County’s children.

“I want people to walk away from this with the hope that child neglect and abuse is something we tackle and that there is hope for prevention in the future,” she said. “If we come together as a team, we can protect the children in our community and outside our community, as well. I want people to know that there is hope that we can tackle this monster.”

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