State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C - Schenectady) reports the New York State Senate passed a resolution today, that the Senator co-sponsored, commemorating April as National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.
"It should never hurt to be a child," Senator Farley said. "Preventing child abuse and neglect is a community issue that depends on involvement of people throughout the community."
In 2007, Senator Farley sponsored legislation known as Xctasy's Law that closed a loophole in child abuse reporting. Under old law, Social Services workers who received second-hand reports of suspected child abuse were not legally required to follow up. Xctasy Garcia, a Schenectady child, was being abused in a motel and a patron could hear the abuse going on and told the manager. The manager, in turn, called Social Services but there was no follow-up investigation until members of Xctasy's church saw the abused child and reported it.
"Now the law requires Social Services workers to investigate all reports of suspected child abuse," Senator Farley explained. "Even when the report may be second-hand or incomplete, we owe it to our vulnerable children to be sure that Social Services professionals investigate the case. Had this law been in place when the motel manager conveyed the report, the situation would have been investigated and could have been stopped much earlier."
In recognition of that month, Senator Farley and Catholic Charities Family Room are teaming up to host a Community Wellness Day on Tuesday, April 14th, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the lower level of the Riverfront Center in Amsterdam.
"We have over 70 agencies participating in this event, including those who specialize in child abuse prevention and child support services. They include Prevent Child Abuse New York, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Fulton and Montgomery Counties, Sexual Assault Support Services and Montgomery County Domestic Violence Services," Senator Farley said.
The event is geared towards people of all ages and will also include agencies that provide services to senior citizens.
According to the resolution that was passed by the Senate today, "Child abuse and neglect not only directly harm children but also increase the likelihood of long-term physical and mental health problems, alcohol and substance abuse, continued family violence and criminal behavior. Child maltreatment occurs when people find themselves in stressful situations, without community resources, and don't know how to cope."
In addition to Senator Farley's April 14th Community Wellness Day, CASA of Fulton and Montgomery Counties is sponsoring a Pinwheel for Prevention campaign, culminating with a Celebration of Children Showcase on April 24th at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.