Photo courtesy of Ajay Suresh / Flickr
Story by Kara Aguilar / Contributing Writer
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Rutherford and Cannon Counties recently wrapped up the 8th annual 19 Days of Activism, an annual November event to raise awareness of violence against children. This year, the Day of Activism ran from Nov. 1 to Nov. 19.
This year’s local theme was to raise awareness of the impact that opioid and substance abuse has on children in Rutherford County and Cannon County. Executive Director of the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford and Cannon Counties Sharon DeBoer said people do not think of children when they consider opioid addiction, opioid overdoses and the drug epidemic in America.
“We see 50 to 60 cases each month, and over 50 percent of those are drug-endangered children,” said Brittnie Noble, the community education coordinator at the CAC.
According to the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center in Murfreesboro, the number of children born with opioid withdrawal symptoms continues to rise as the opioid epidemic takes hold of communities. Users between the ages of 21 to 35 who have young children put their child at risk of lasting psychological development. Children living with parents that are addicted to opioids also are at risk of using substances themselves.
This year, the CAC partnered with 19 different agencies to call attention to how they help children impacted by the opioid crisis. These agencies include the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, the Rutherford County Fire Department, NCSU’s Family Studies and Child Development Program and several others in Rutherford and Cannon Counties. All of the agencies involved sent out press releases throughout the 19 days in order to further educate the community on how opioids impact children in the area.
During the 19 days, the CAC also sponsored “Darkness to Light” trainings, aimed to inform parents, family members and professionals on how to protect children from abuse and what to do if a child discloses abuse.
“It’s not just one adult, one parent’s responsibility for a child,” Nobel said. “It’s the responsibility of the community.”
The CAC works with the Department of Children’s Services to break the generational cycle of drug abuse by figuring out what families need and assist non-offending parents in giving their children a happier childhood. Many families served are grandparents who have been granted custody of their grandchildren by the DCS because their child’s drug addiction was hindering their ability to provide the grandchildren with adequate care.
The CAC offers an in-home counseling option in Rutherford and Cannon Counties that teaches families how to cope with addiction issues and helps parents to stop using drugs through services such as alcohol and drug education, relapse prevention, anger management, parenting and communication skills and stress management.
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