Yukon focuses on child abuse prevention

Oklahoma agency promotes month-long awareness effort

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Annette Wisk Jacobi (left), director of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, talks about Child Abuse Prevention Month after accepting a proclamation during the March 15th Yukon City Council meeting inside the Centennial Building, 12 S 5th. Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby (right) presented the proclamation to Jacobi and Ellen J. Lohrenz of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

A Yukon focus on preventing child abuse through strong families is helping more than 7,000 children now living, growing and learning in this community.

That’s a key message of “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Yukon.

April was so proclaimed during the March 15th Yukon City Council meeting.

Annette Wisk Jacobi, director of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, thanked the City of Yukon for “all you do to support families and for preventing child abuse in the first place.”

“It is so important for all of us to recognize that each one of us has a role to play in supporting parents and making them feel like they can be the best parents,” Jacobi told the audience.

“Because we know children cannot thrive without a healthy, happy and safe home.”

The Child Abuse Prevention Month effort is especially important to Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby.

Selby, a child therapist, referred to “how much our children need us – especially at this time – because there is so much going on with them.”

The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth – in collaboration with their citywide partners – are engaging individuals and communities in a coordinated effort to prevent child abuse and neglect.

This is being done by “promoting awareness of healthy child development, positive parenting practices and the types of support families need within their communities”, Yukon’s mayor said.

“I encourage all citizens of Yukon to recognize prevention starts with each of us,” said Selby, reading from the proclamation at the March 15th meeting.

The proclamation indicates that “Yukon’s future prosperity depends on nurturing the healthy environment” of this city’s children.

The document signed by Mayor Selby further reads:

  • Abuse and neglect of children can cause severe, costly and lifelong problems affecting all of society, including physical and mental health problems, social failure and criminal behavior.
  • Research shows that parents and caregivers who have social networks and know how to seek help in times of trouble are more resilient and better able to provide safe environments and nurturing experiences for their children
  • Individuals, businesses, schools, and faith-based and community. organizations must make children a top priority and take action to support the physical, social, emotional, and educational development and competency of all children.
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ABOUT THE COMMISSION

In the early 1980s, a lawsuit was brought forward by seven teenage plaintiffs in the custody of the Department of Human Services known as the “Terry D. Case.”

The lawsuit alleged instances of abuse and generally horrific conditions faced by Oklahoma children in state custody and cared for by institutions.

Along with the lawsuit, local Gannett news aired a series of reports called “Oklahoma’s Shame,” which helped lead to a massive change in the child welfare system.

As part of these changes, in 1982, Oklahoma House Bill 1468 was signed into law and the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) was created to bring accountability and oversight into the child and youth service systems of Oklahoma.

Programs within OCCY include the Oklahoma Child Death Review Boards, the Post Adjudication Review Boards, Freestanding Multidisciplinary Teams, the Office of Planning and Coordination, and the Office of Juvenile System Oversight.

For more than 39 years, OCCY has successfully worked for the establishment of effective services, has been instrumental in the remediation or elimination of substandard services, and has helped create quality systems for children, youth and families.

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