Northwestern SWAT participating in child abuse prevention initiatives

 

April 14, 2019

The 332 wooden characters displayed on the northeast corner of the Garfield County Courthouse are being used to increase community awareness of children abused or neglected in Garfield County.

Northwestern Oklahoma State University Social Workers Association of Tomorrow (SWAT) members have taken part in Child Abuse Prevention Month initiatives including the "Wooden Children" project sponsored by the Garfield County Child Advocacy Center. They also have designed a blue ribbon tree on the Northwestern-Woodward campus.

Blue Ribbon Trees are sponsored by The Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Action Committee, led by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The blue ribbon is an international sign for child abuse prevention and is a constant reminder that all individuals have a duty to protect children. This is the 11th year in Oklahoma that communities have been encouraged to display a "Blue Ribbon Tree" during the month of April for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Blue ribbon trees are registered with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and photos of the trees are displayed at the Annual Oklahoma Child Abuse and Neglect Conference, hosted by the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect.


"Being able to grow our activities for Child Abuse Prevention Month to other campuses shows that we are growing in the area of awareness of child abuse and neglect in the state of Oklahoma," Jennifer Pribble, SWAT sponsor and assistant professor of social work, said.

The "Wooden Children" project is designed to bring awareness to the number of child abuse cases that are investigated each year. In 2018, 332 confirmed cases of child abuse were reported in Garfield County.

Each wooden figurine is approximately 2- to 3- feet high and were cut out by volunteers from Vance Air Force Base. Once the forms were cut out, the Junior Welfare League and other individuals painted on the faces and hair.

Organizations, businesses, groups and individuals were asked to "foster" a wooden child for $25. The group sponsoring the child dressed and displayed them where they chose throughout March. On April 1 the Wooden Children were taken to the courthouse lawn to be displayed through the month of April for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

"This is a subject not many enjoy discussing, but is a subject that all individuals need to be aware of as mandated reporters of child abuse in this state," Pribble said. "Visual reminders of this act brings the awareness that there are children experiencing child abuse and neglect in this state and, it takes all of us to protect these vulnerable children."

Northwestern Social Workers Association of Tomorrow (SWAT) members are taking part in Child Abuse Prevention Month initiatives including designing a blue ribbon tree on the Northwestern-Woodward campus. Pictured are (from left) Alicia James, Laverne senior, SWAT secretary; Reba Finley, Arnett junior, SWAT member; and Jennifer Pribble, SWAT sponsor, with the blue ribbon tree at the Northwestern-Woodward campus.

 

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