Key to ending child abuse

Published 9:20 am Thursday, April 21, 2011

Collaboration will be the key to ending child abuse in Freeborn County, officials say.

Local law enforcement, emergency personnel and other community members came together Tuesday morning at The Children’s Center to proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. This was the 10th year the proclamation has taken place.

Sheriff Bob Kindler looks on as 5-year-old Taylor Sipple signs a proclamation against child abuse with the help of Kim Nelson, executive director of The Children’s Center. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

“This is a community-wide effort to end the abusive cycle,” Freeborn County Sheriff Bob Kindler said.

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Kim Nelson, director of The Children’s Center, represented the Help Us Grow Safely Council in place of Barb Sorum, who wasn’t able to attend.

“Let us not lose sight of what we all can do in Freeborn County,” Nelson said.

Part of the April campaign will be Pinwheels for Prevention, a campaign for strengthening families. Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels said preventing child abuse is important because of the effects it can have on children for the rest of their life.

“We have to protect our children as much as possible,” Winkels said.

He said it’s important to promote organizations such as the Hugs Council because there have been child abuse deaths in Freeborn County. Kindler agreed that the event is a reminder to continue partnerships and encourage collaboration.

“We need to increase awareness and education,” Kindler said.

Lt. Jeff Strom said interacting with children is important so they know not to be afraid of law enforcement.

“Sometimes parents make kids afraid of police,” Strom said.

Parents may inadvertently make children fear law enforcement by telling them they’ll call the police if the child doesn’t go to bed. Those kinds of things would make it hard for a child to go to law enforcement if they’re being abused.

He said officers like to go to events like the one on Tuesday or the recent Family Fun event at the Northbridge Mall. Those opportunities allow the officers to talk with kids and show children they’re approachable.

“We try and promote the welfare of the kids,” Strom said.

In previous years children got to tie blue ribbons to emergency vehicles but because of the weather they got ribbons to take home. For more information about the Help Us Grow Safely Council, contact 377-7665 or