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Attention called to assault, abuse
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month
crisis center pic.jpg
The Barton County Commission Monday proclaimed this as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month. The Family Crisis Center (pictured) requested the designation.

Walk a Mile, Family Fest set for April 18

The Family Crisis Center will hold its annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event along with is second-ever family fest from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in the Barton Count Courthouse Square, downtown Great Bend. It calls attention to domestic violence and comes during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The event will include the red shoe relay in which men are challenged to wear red stilettos. The Family Fest includes bounce houses, games, food vendors and other activities.

For more information, call the center at 620-793-9941.

April has been  designated as both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved proclamations recognizing these observances.

The reason is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence, said Joanne Wondra, executive director of the Family Crisis Center. Falling under the Family Crisis Center, the Domestic and Sexual Violence Center provides services for sexual assault survivors at no charge and offers educational and professional training for community members and professionals.  

“Sexual violence is a widespread, preventable, public health problem in Kansas,” Wondra said. This is any sexual act inflicted onto someone else against that person’s will or when that person is not able to consent or refuse the act and includes sexual assault, rape, unwanted touching, threatened sexual violence, exhibitionism, and verbal sexual harassment. 

The Family Crisis Center served 270 victims in 2018 and 86 victims in 2018 who identified sexual assault as their primary victimization. In addition, there were over 200 calls for incidents of sexual violence were reported to law enforcement in Barton County. 

But, “the statistics do not represent the true incidence and prevalence of sexual violence for multiple reasons,” Wondra said. These include that not all victims report the crime to law enforcement, and that sexual violence is often a tactic of domestic violence. So, the violence may not be reported as the primary form of abuse and victimization by law enforcement although the victim has experienced sexual violence along with another kind of primary abuse.

“Do you think things are getting better?” asked Commissioner Jennifer Schartz.

“Domestic violence is hard to put in a little box,” Wondra said. Numbers may have dipped, but “it is not reported often enough.”

Child Abuse Prevention Month

The Family Crisis Center also requested that a proclamation be adopted declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. It states child abuse and neglect can be reduced by making sure families have the support needed to raise children in a healthy environment and that there are dedicated individuals and organizations in Barton County working to counter these problems, said. Kasey Dalke, FCC child advocacy director/forensic interviewer.

In 2018, the center served 223 children and non-offending caregivers, she said. It also gave 10 educational presentations and offered over 1.500 services.

“Preventing child abuse and neglect is a community problem that requires all citizens to be involved,” Dalke said. Child maltreatment occurs when people find themselves in stressful situations without community resources and don’t know how to cope, but it can be reduced by making sure families have the support needed to raise children in a healthy environment.

“In Barton County, Kansas, there are dedicated individuals and organizations that work daily to counter the problem of child abuse and neglect and help parents obtain assistance,” she said.

“All children deserve freedom from verbal abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse and neglect,” Dalke said. “All children deserve to have warm homes, loving hugs, tender care, parents and adults who listen and promote self-esteem, give quality time and provide necessary food shelter, clothing and attention.”

Effective child abuse prevention programs succeed because of partnerships created among social service agencies, schools, faith communities, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies and the business community, she said. Through partnerships and collaborations, the Family Crisis Child Advocacy, Kansas Children Service League, Central Kansas Court Appointed Special Advocates, Kansas Department for Children and Families, St. Francis Ministries, Child Abuse Prevention and Education, University of Kansas Health Systems – Great Bend Campus sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) program, 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services and law enforcement officers work daily to address child abuse and neglect.

The Family Crisis Center, based in Great Bend provides advocacy and support to all survivors and secondary victims of domestic and sexual violence, child abuse and neglect while encouraging social change through awareness, education and prevention.

The Domestic and Sexual Violence Center creates a safe environment for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to understand the resources and options available to them and get support as they begin to heal from the trauma. 

These services are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week in Barton, Barber, Comanche, Edwards, Kiowa, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush and Stafford counties.  

The Child Advocacy Center is a family-friendly environment for children and families. The CAC becomes involved with the children and families upon referral from Department for Children and Families and/or Law Enforcement in order to assist with the investigative process and provide services through referrals as well as advocacy to the child and family.  Services for the CAC are provided in Barton, Pawnee, Rush and Stafford counties.

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance:

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Approved a proclamation honoring the Central Plains High School Oilers girls’ Oilers basketball team for its 2018-2019 season.

• Approved proclamations marking April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

• Approved the purchase of computer servers.

Barton County currently has seven servers running the Windows Server 2008R2 operating system. This operating system will no longer be supported by Microsoft as of January, 2020, Network Administrator Dereck Hollingshead said. 

The Information Technology Department accepted quotes to replace the servers in order to transfer the data and software in a timely manner to eliminate end user downtime. SHI of Somerset, N.J., provided the low bid of $28,458.24 for two replacement servers. 

Due to advancements in technology, two servers will be replacing seven. There are also some streamlining measures being taken.

The purchase now will allow time for the data to be transferred and prevent interruptions in service, Hollingshead said.

• Renamed Libbie Merritt, Hannelore Kitts  and Brian Wilborn to the Health Department Advisory Committee. The committee reviews and makes recommendations on policies related to public health services in Barton County, Health Director Shelly Schneider said. The uncompensated positions term Dec. 31, 2020.