REXBURG — You may have seen it around town: full grown men painting all but one of their nails blue. But it’s more than a fashion statement. They’re showing support for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Seasons Medical, Madison Cares, and many other local businesses and organizations have joined in the effort of painting their thumbnails blue for the cause.
“All kids need advocates. The best thing you can do in our community to help prevent child abuse and neglect is to keep your eyes open, watch for situations that don’t feel right, and don’t be afraid to get help,” said Dr. Jason Hymas with Season’s Medical in a news release.
Physician assistant Mark Hammar says children who have a healthy childhood have more stability throughout their life and create a pattern of stability in generations to come.
“If you are a parent who wants to break an unhealthy pattern, I highly recommend seeing a therapist or checking in with your physician to help find the underlying cause of the behavior you would like to change,” Hammar said in the news release.
Madison Cares, which facilitates mental health services under Madison School District 321, says it has led the way in Child Abuse Prevention awareness in conjunction with the Idaho Children’s Trust fund for the last 14 years.
District 321’s communication coordinator Jessica Goudy told EastIdahoNews.com the district joins with others throughout the Gem State in planting an annual pinwheel garden. She says it’s to bring awareness to the topic throughout the community. Community and district officials attended the pinwheel garden ceremony last Tuesday.
“We plant this garden every year just to get the community’s attention, and they use the pinwheel as a symbol of childhood,” Goudy says. “At this event, we’re able to pass out information to community members on ways that they can become better informed and how to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect.”
Goudy says signs of child abuse can include withdrawal from friends, changes in behavior, depression, anxiety or unusual fears, frequent absence from school, reluctance to leave school activities, physical things, unexplained injuries, and untreated medical or dental issues.
“Everybody in the state of Idaho is a mandatory reporter. We want everybody to be aware of what they’re looking for,” Goudy says. “I just really encourage every adult to become educated on this, to know what to look for, and if they do have to intervene to know what to do.”
Goudy says mental health help is available to the public through Madison Cares for those who are infants up to 21 years old. She says Madison Cares offers community parenting classes every Wednesday as well as a two-hour certification course to recognize the signs of child abuse called Darkness to Light. The next Darkness to Light classes will be offered Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and April 23 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Madison Education Center, 60 West Main Street in Rexburg.
Go to the Madison Cares website to learn more about the signs of abuse or join the movement online by posting a photo with a related hashtag like #thumbsupidaho #stopchildabuse #ncapm2019, or #ncapm.