April is child abuse and neglect prevention month

By BETH CHAPMAN / Guest Columnist

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Neglect Month. Shelby County is blessed that we have fewer reports of child abuse and neglect than many counties in our state. However, if we have one, it is one too many.

According to one report, in just two years, Shelby County had 1,358 reported cases of abuse. The key word is “reported” because there are so many cases that go unreported.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Shelby County is a nonprofit organization that works to prevent child abuse and neglect. They also recruit and train volunteers to go through the court process with abused and neglected children.

CASA Volunteers are the eyes and ears of the court. Once trained, they are sworn in as Officers of the Court. They are then assigned a case, interview the child and others of importance in their lives. CASA Volunteers can go into the homes of these children and the Judge cannot. Therefore, they provide valuable insight and information to the judge based on their observations.

The CASA Volunteer writes court reports that provide critical information needed by the Judge in order to make the best decision for the children they both serve.

Judge Jim Kramer oversees the Juvenile Court in Shelby County and works closely with CASA to ensure that every child has a safe and permanent home.

While is it a sad reality that children are abused and neglected, it is good to know that we have so many outstanding organizations in our county who help these children. CASA is proud to be one of them.

CASA’s next volunteer training class will begin August 18th. Classes will be held every Thursday from 9:00-noon in Pelham for five weeks. For more information on CASA and how you can prevent child abuse and neglect and assist children who have been abused, please visit Casaofshelbycounty.org or call 243-8753.

 

Beth Chapman is Alabama’s former secretary of state, and is a Shelby County resident.