Social Services set to Rock the Block

In 1983, president Ronald Reagan formally designated April Child Abuse Prevention Month. 36 years later, people are still combating child abuse and neglect, even in North Dakota.

Data from the Department of Human Services found that, “In 2014, there was 1,616 children in North Dakota who were determined to be victims of child abuse or neglect.”
Adams County Social Services Director Cheryl Dix said that child abuse and neglect is something that everyone should be aware of.
“We need to be creative, to find ways to help safety for children and families,” said Dix. “There will always be situations where certain interventions need to be put into place to ensure the safety of children.”
In last five years, the number of child abuse and neglect reports has steadily increased. Using data from the North Dakota Department of Human Services and Children and Family Services, found that just as recently as 2018 there were 2,097 victims of child abuse and neglect in North Dakota alone.
The report counted instances where services were required to address child abuse or neglect.  The report derived their data from instances where, “a high level of risk [was] determined to exist for the child(ren) and/or the family’s needs [were] such that immediate service is required in order to lesson the safety risk.”
Dix said that the increase in the statistic state wide regarding child abuse and neglect correlates with North Dakota’s “oil boom.”
“In our state, especially in rural areas, increases in drug use and mental health issues combined with limited resources to address the problems are what have really impacted the increase. We are seeing more complex or difficult situations.”
To spread awareness for the growing issue, Social Services has rallied behind the blue pinwheels as a symbol of awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Throughout the month of April, the Adams County Social Services office has the blue pinwheels all over their office and lawn.
“I want people to know that Social Services is just trying to offer people support and education,” said Dix.
Rock the Block
Recently, the Hettinger Social Services Office received a $1,500 grant from Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota. To help raise awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Adams County Social Services Office is using some of that grant to throw a block party called Rock the Block. Although originally planned for the 29th of April, it has since been postponed to a later date.
Cheyrl Dix’s plan is to block off the entire Adams County Courthouse block and paint the Social Services’ parking lot blue.
“I want this block party to be for everybody,” said Dix, “There’s a lot of people I know that are new to town or maybe don’t have a lot of ties to community. This would be an opportunity for people to come out and have some fun with no strings attached.”
So far, Social Services has a lot planned for the event. The Rock the Block party will include yard games, free BBQ, water balloons, fun carnival activities, and music.
Dix even wants to get a dunk tank for the occasion. Working with the Adams County Sheriff’s department, Social Services hopes to give out fake summons to individuals in community to participate in the dunk tank.
“A fake summons would be a promise to participate in the dunk tank. The money raised, people could choose to put towards whatever local charity that they want,” said Dix. “At the Drug and Alcohol Coalition meeting, names like Dr. Ranum, Matt Shahan, Ted Uecker, and Travis Collins were suggested for the fake summons. Darin Seamands was also a very popular name mentioned.”
The Rock the Block party will take place on April 29 from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Adams County Courthouse block.
Even with all the great ideas for fun, Dix said the ultimate goal of the Rock the Block party is for people to understand that Social Services is an available resource for those who need it.
“I really want people to know that Social Services is here to help. As parents, we tall have stressors and various social or economic issues,” said Dix. “We want to try to reach families before crisis hits.