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Letter: Take action to improve system

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opinion Woodbury, 55125
Woodbury Bulletin
651-702-0977 customer support
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

I am a resident of Washington County. My heart breaks whenever I pick up the newspaper and read yet another story about a case of child abuse and neglect.

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I have often wondered what I could do as an ordinary citizen to make a positive impact in my community, and whether child abuse was something that could be prevented before we read of another case in the papers.

April is national Child Abuse Prevention month, which must have been the reason the Chicago-Sun Times recently published an article regarding the correlation between economic downturns and child abuse.

In that article, 80 percent of police chiefs in Illinois reported they have seen an increase in reports of child abuse and neglect in their communities.

I imagine that Washington County will not be immune from this sad trend. Statistics like these move many to wonder what they can do to aid in prevention efforts.

I recently joined the Washington County Child Protection Citizen Review Panel and made the decision not to silently sit by reading of yet another case of abuse or neglect.

Citizen review panels impact the system from the inside, by reviewing determination cases, making suggestions on how to improve the child protection system, working to promote change, and aiding in prevention efforts.

Please encourage your readers to make a decision to take action today. Citizens can learn how they can aid in prevention efforts by contacting Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota (pcamn.org) or joining a citizen review panel in their county.

Currently, there are four Citizen Review Panels in Minnesota.

Their locations and contact information are:

• Chisago County Citizen Review Panel, contact Liz Dodge, director, (651) 213-0330

• Ramsey County Children's Services Review Panel, contact Angie Taylor, coordinator, (651) 266-4423

• Washington County Citizen Review Panel, contact Don Pelton, supervisor, (651) 430-6631

• Winona County Citizen Review Panel, contact Winona County Community Education, (507) 494-0900

Ann Bebeau, vice chair

Washington County Citizen Review Panel, Stillwater

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