Jacksonville council looking into Child Abuse task force
Jacksonville, NC – District Attorney Ernie Lee addressed the Jacksonville City Council and showcased the circumstances that contribute to child abuse and mistreatment. Although it wasn’t listed in the slideshow reasons, Lee told the council, “Some people are mean. Some people are bad.”
Other contributing factors include a lack of intelligence and education as well as a cycle of abuse, marriage problems, unemployment and illness, among other reasons.
Some people just aren’t equipped to raise children, Lee continued, adding that it was amazing what someone has to go through to get a driver’s license, and yet anyone can have a child.
Lee said he currently has 32 people awaiting trial for more than 100 charges that include child abuse and exploitation of a child.
“We need to get in front of this. We need to do something to prevent it from happening,” Jacksonville Director of Public Safety Mike Yaniero said.
Yaniero and Lee, along with several others with them at the council workshop, were there to promote the idea of a task force that focuses on preventing child abuse.
Malea Rose-Waters with Prevent Child Abuse N.C. said she’s worked with New Hanover, Cumberland, and Halifax counties to create child abuse prevention plans using community leaders with a passion for helping kids.
The focus of those task forces is finding ways to give adults the tools they need to overcome the stresses of life and become better parents in order to give their children happy and healthy homes, like learning how to create a nurturing relationship with your child, classes for parenting skills, how to build resilience, and learning to only allow positive relationships, instead of toxic ones, around your children.
“If you do want to change the lives of children, you have to change the lives of the people who are taking care of them, Rose-Waters explained.
These communities hope to offer ways for parents to ensure basic needs are met, and help them learn it’s okay to ask for help while also ensuring they know where to go to get the help they need.
“I think all of us would agree that a child being hurt is not okay, and it’s 100 percent preventable,” said Dawn Rochelle with Onslow County Partnership for Children. “I believe that the resources are here.”
Jacksonville Mayor Sammy Phillips noted that the child abuse issue in Onslow County has just as much, if not more, of a devastating impact on the community as the opioid epidemic.
Council members agreed that it’s an issue that needs to be tackled and unanimously approved having the city staff look into a task force and partnerships between the city, the county, and the organizations and people represented at the meeting before reporting back with their findings within 90 days.