NWA Holiday Market

Lacey Lloyd Ledbetter, Emily Rappe’ Fisher, Bill Lloyd, Lindsey Cosio

­The Children’s Safety Center of Washington County received over $18,000 at the Northwest Arkansas Holiday Market on November 15-16. We are so grateful, and appreciate those who came to the market, from vendors to volunteers to customers. But we can’t leave out Bill Lloyd with Southern Roots Promotions and Jake McBride with Kix 104 for their outstanding support in helping create the market and spread the word about the event!

Bill hosted the Northwest Arkansas Holiday Market and chose to donate the entry costs to the Children’s Safety Center of Washington County. He heard about the Children’s Safety Center through Susan Parker and Jake McBride, and said as soon as he did, he was sold. Taking a tour of the building was just another reason he felt compelled to donate.

“We were invited to go tour the place, which just killed me,” he said. “I hate that it has to exist. But man, it’s eye-opening. It’s so much when you see the 11,000 handprints on the walls.” Every child that receives services at the Children’s Safety Center leaves their colorful handprint, their mark of bravery behind.

Bill said funding child abuse services and prevention was important to him for many reasons. He’s a father and grandpa, and said when deciding on where to donate proceeds, a charity that helped children was a priority to him.

“I had certain standards that I wanted: I wanted it to benefit children; I wanted it to be local; and I… wanted the money to go where it’s supposed to go; where there’s a real need.”

Bill exceeded his goal of $10,000 to donate to the Children’s Safety Center of Washington County, and said he can’t wait for next year where he wants to increase his goal and donate even more to kids who need help!

“We’re all in,” Bill said. “I don’t start something just to do it one time; I start to finish it.”

We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us and for Bill, but we must extend another thank you to Jake McBride. He publicized the event on Kix 104 and other iHeart radio stations and he also helps keep Northwest Arkansas educated about child abuse in the area year-round.

“I really love what the safety center has done as far as all the advocacy, all the training, all the knowledge and all the seminars they do,” he said. “That’s what I’m all about is just getting that word out. They’re making people more aware of what to look for, if and when they see some changes in the behavior of the kids.”

This year’s holiday market was a way for our community to learn about child abuse and to help prevent it. We cannot say “thank you” enough to everyone who played a role – but we’re sure going to try. See everyone next year!

Volunteers from the Holiday Market.

#SupporterSpotlight- Terry Bankston

Written by: Victoria Burnett

Terry Bankston holding a donated bear. 2019.

To many, stuffed animals bring back fond childhood memories. To others, they could be knick knacks, collectibles or toys for grandkids. To kids at the Children’s Safety Center, the stuffed animal they get as they exit the doors of our facility reminds them that they are survivors.

Every child who walks through the doors of the Children’s Safety Center gets to pick out his or her own stuffed animal– and Terry Bankston makes sure we have plenty. For the past two years he has put on an event called “Bears to Give” where he has collected stuffed animals to donate to the Children’s Safety Center.

“If I believe in a cause, if I can help, then I’ll do whatever I can to make people aware of what’s going on,” Terry said.

During a tour of the center Terry noticed the collection of stuffed animals, and knew he could combine his life-long love for bears with his heart for helping others. And we really couldn’t be more thankful for his generosity! His volunteer work is what brought this bunny back to the Children’s Safety Center. 

Bunny that belonged to a child who was treated at the Children’s Safety Center. 2019.

During last week’s “Bears to Give” event one lady donated a stuffed animal that belonged to her former foster daughter who had been at the Children’s Safety Center for treatment. After she got adopted, the child gave the stuffed animal to her foster mother and told her to make sure it got into another child’s hands who “needed to feel safe.” Because of Terry and his “Bears to Give” event, the woman who held onto the bunny for eight years finally got to fulfill her former foster daughter’s wish of giving it to another child in need. 

“That was one of those moments where it really didn’t matter if anyone else came into the event, because that was the one,” Terry said. “That’s why we do what we do. That’s why I do what I do. Those kinds of things change generations.”

And he’s right! What we do at the Children’s Safety Center is to make children feel confident and comfortable again. But we can’t do it without wonderful people like Terry. We are so, so grateful for his help. And we are so going to miss him! 

His time in Arkansas is almost up because he’s moving to Virginia soon, he said. But we hope it’s not the last time we’ll see him.

“I am still going to support the Children’s Safety Center,” he said. “That’s a promise. I’m going to keep talking about it on my Facebook page, and if I have to come back here and have a “Bears to Give” event every June, I’ll do that.”

We can’t wait until we see you again, Terry! Thank you for your help in restoring dreams for kids in Washington County.

Terry Bankston with his stuffed animal donations. 2018.

What is your child’s school doing to keep them safe?

Talking with the Director
Just as you would talk with the director about curriculum, teachers, meals, and play safety, it’s also important to ask about policies and practices that will help keep your kids safe from sexual abuse. Please don’t let your discomfort stand in the way of this important back-to-school conversation. Ask the director about background checks for all adults in the building: teachers, staff and even volunteers. Most sex offenders, however, are never caught so they don’t end up on the National Sex Offender Registry. This means it’s also important to ask about reference checking and interviewing. Ideally, the director includes interview questions about the appropriate and inappropriate touch of children.

Also ask about these policies:
1)  Adults spending time alone with children
2)  Appropriate / inappropriate touch of children by adults
3)  Appropriate / inappropriate touch of children by children
4)  Diapering, toileting, and changing clothes

Because one-third to one-half of all sexual abuse is committed by youth, it’s also important to learn how staff intervene in children’s sexual behaviors, both appropriate and concerning. Ask questions about how staff are trained to recognize age-appropriate and harmful sexual behaviors, and the protocol for responding to both.

Policies, however, aren’t enough, so you might ask how practices are monitored. As you are talking with the director, look for open and forthcoming communication.

Touring the School
As you walk through the school, look at the physical layout and make sure there are no spaces where an adult could be alone with a child or a child could be alone with another child. All of the spaces where children study, play, and interact should be open and easily visible. Doors should have windows and bathrooms should not contain areas where children can be isolated. In preschool environments, pay close attention to diaper changing areas.

Meeting the Teacher
If you don’t have a chance to meet your child’s teacher before the first day of school, it’s never too late to have a conversation with him or her about your child’s body-safety rules. For example:

“I wanted to tell you that we have been teaching our son, Jamie, some body-safety rules. Perhaps you have heard him exclaim that he is the boss of his body! I also wanted to let you know that our son does not keep secrets. While we will encourage him to follow your safety rules, we have also told him that that if anyone asks him to do something that breaks one of his body-safety rules, he has permission to say ‘No’ and tell us right away.” 

Training for Staff, Parents & Children
The strongest child abuse prevention programs include regular education. At a minimum, look for annual staff training that covers myths and facts about sexual abuse, school policies, appropriate and inappropriate touch of children, and the warning signs that someone is abusing or being

If You Only Ask 1 Question…

Ask: What policies are in place to prevent child sexual abuse?

Look for policies that address:

  • Adults spending time alone with children (2 adults to 1 child).
  • Appropriate and inappropriate touch of children by adults.
  • Appropriate and inappropriate touch of children by other children.
  • Diapering, toileting, showering, and changing clothes.

In-home daycare providers should also have specific policies about how non-staff family members interact with children.

Policies, however, aren’t enough, so you also might ask how practices are monitored. As you are talking with the director, look for open and forthcoming communication!

Kids and Summer Safety

Summer is the time for fun in the sun. With thoughts of summer comes barbecues, lake days, and endless family get-togethers. Summer also brings a few months of kiddos running around while school is out. That means family camping trips, summer camps and programs, and kids spending time with friends. Throughout all these fun summer activities, it is important to remember to keep your child’s safety at the forefront of your mind. There are several ways to keep your kiddos safe from mental, emotional, and physical abuses that can come with summertime activities.

First, it is important to remember that sunblock can NEVER be overrated. No matter what else goes on that summer, it will not be near as fun if a sunburn is involved! It also needs to be said that children under 1 year need to be out of the sun as much as possible. Gotta beat that heat!

Second, make sure to keep First-Aid kits handy for any minor injuries that may occur. This is super important with kiddos running around!

Third, children should always be supervised when participating in water activities! No exceptions!

Speaking of water, make sure everyone drinks enough water and watch out for heat exhaustion. This can be helped by making sure kids wear lightweight clothing and take frequent water breaks.

Last, make sure to talk to your kids about keeping themselves safe whenever they are out of your sight. They need to know about keeping their minds and bodies safe, both from strangers and people close to them. They need to know what is and what is not okay and that they DO have a voice.

Summertime is wonderful, full of fun, and creates so many memories. Just make sure to keep everyone safe in the meantime!

#SupporterSpotlight – CourtHouse Concepts, Inc.

Here at the Children’s Safety Center of Washington County, we are are often overwhelmed by the support we receive from our community. Our events like the annual Founders Crawfish Boil are a great way to see that support in action! Today’s #SupporterSpotlight is shined on our Gold Sponsor of the Crawfish Boil, CourtHouse Concepts, Inc. This will be their third year of choosing to support our Mission!

Paul Hickman, President of CourtHouse Concepts, Inc., that they love the “gratification of knowing the money is going to a worthy cause”. While they enjoy being able to give monetary sponsorship, they also “take pride in completing the background checks for the Children’s Safety Center”.

Like many others when asked, Mr. Hickman could not single out a specific favorite memory of Crawfish Boils because they’re always such great events!

When Mr. Hickman was asked what he was most looking forward to at this year’s Boil, he exclaimed that the “fellowship is wonderful, but I’m going to have to go with the crawfish!!”.

Thank you, CourtHouse Concepts, for your continued involvement!!

Our Mission: The Children’s Safety Center of Washington County empowers children to overcome abuse and begin to trust, hope, and heal.

#SupporterSpotlight – Harrison French and Associates

We would like to take this moment in time to shine a spotlight on another one of our amazing supporters who help make our annual Founders Crawfish Boil possible, Harrison French and Associates of Bentonville, Arkansas.

This wonderful company has been involved with the Children’s Safety Center of Washington County for four years. Our Platinum Sponsor’s CEO, Dave Wilgus, told us that their favorite thing about getting to be involved with the CSC is knowing they are helping the Center care for the abused children of our county.

When asked what their favorite way to get involved is, the answer was a hearty, “Sponsoring and attending the Crawfish Boils!”

We know that everyone has favorite memories from the previous Crawfish Boils. Thankfully, Dave’s favorite is one the crowd get to experience every year:

“Dan Arrington’s gumbo – it is the best gumbo in NWA!!! Dan’s always out there in the heat working behind that hot stove making it for us every year!”

While Dave was unable to attend this year, HFA was able to raffle off a whopping EIGHT tickets to the boil!

“I know those are coveted tickets every year, since the food and music are so great!” said Dave.

Harrison French and Associates, thank you so much for everything you do!

Mental Health in May

As May is coming to a close, we want to take a moment to remind everyone about the importance of mental health. This is a health concern that affects people of all ages, races, and genders. Even our kids are not immune.

20% of kids aged 13 – 18 are living with a mental health condition.

3.2% of kids aged 3 – 17 have been diagnosed with depression. That’s almost 1.9 million kids.

7.1% of kids aged 3 – 17 (almost 4.4 million) have been diagnosed with anxiety. That’s not counting each child who has yet to be diagnosed and getting the help they need.

Treatment rates vary depending on the diagnose mental disorder.

Nearly 8 out of 10 kids are received treatment for depression.

6 in 10 children with anxiety received treatment.

1 in 6 children aged 2 – 8 years has a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.

What Can You Do?

Parents: LISTEN to your kids. Always BELIEVE them. Always LOVE them.

Get professional help. Counselors, mentors, advocates, and so many more are here to help.

Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline: 844.SAVE.A.CHILD

#SupporterSpotlight – First National Bank

The annual Founder’s Crawfish Boil is almost upon us, and that means our amazing sponsors step up to help make it an event to remember! First National Bank is one of those sponsors and they have had an amazing impact on the CSC of Washington County throughout the years. When asked how long their organization has been involved with the CSC, the answer was a heart-warming 10+ years. That is at least 10 years of time, resources, and compassion poured out from their employees to help each child that walks through our doors.

“#weARblue #CSC”

Tanya Mims, the Market President of Washington County, took some time to answer of few of our questions!

What is your favorite thing about being a CSC Sponsor? We love partnering with CSC because we know that our contributions go directly toward helping these children. CSC helps to reduce their trauma so that they can heal and stop the cycle of abuse.

What is your favorite way you (or your company!) have gotten to be involved with the CSC? The annual Founder’s Crawfish Boil!

Favorite memory from Crawfish Boils past? All of them are unique and special. Each years gets better and better so we always look forward to the next year. However, the most memorable was the year rain tried to dampen our event. We just huddled up under the tent and continued having a great time!

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Crawfish Boil? We can’t wait for the fun comradery and knowing that we get to play a small part in helping make a difference in the lives of these children!

Thank you so much to our amazing sponsors at First National Bank! We appreciate everything you do!

#SupporterSpotlight w. Little Guys Movers

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and we are highlighting community supporters that are all about our mission, our programs and our kids. Little Guys Movers and Jake Ladue do just that.

Whether it is helping with our Dream Big Charity Gala, helping a family move in a time of need, or putting office furniture together, Little Guys are always there. We were proud to honor them with the Children’s Safety Center’s Partner + Prevention award at this years Partners + Prevention luncheon.

Little Guys Movers started in Denton, Texas in 1994, with the mindset of treating people with respect and in a professional manner, during a very stressful time of their lives. Relocating is in the top five major life events that happen to a person/family, and often that transition is somewhat stressful. Our goal is to make that process as pleasant as possible.

One thing I deeply appreciate about the culture of Little Guys, is that they are always there to lend a helping hand for a great cause. I came to Little Guys November of 2011; I had just gotten out of school and was geared to teach at a local elementary school. Marcus Watson (the owner) gave me a call to meet me for an interview. During that time in my life, I was highly involved in running my nonprofit that helps children, and was somewhat hesitant on taking on a role at the company. Little Guys worked around my teaching schedule and never once asked me to step away. Little Guys also gave me the opportunity to meet other great people in the community that had the same mindset of helping others. As a Northwest Arkansas native, my community is extremely important to me. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to help – not only in our community, but also across the nation. All of our stores are highly involved in helping those in need: From natural disasters, to being active donation drop-off points, to transporting food, water, and other basic necessities, no matter the distance.

How did you become involved with the Children’s Safety Center? I became involved with the Children’s Safety Center through the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. I was asked to help out with a few events and have continued to jump at every opportunity.

Why do you continue to stay involved? Having a less than ideal childhood myself, helping children is something that I’m very passionate about.

What is your favorite thing about the Children’s Safety Center? That’s a very deep question for me. I know the importance (on a personal level) of the service that they provide to children and their families during their time of need. It’s important that these children have a safe place and are surrounded by people that they are comfortable with to talk to.

Why is it important to spread the mission of the Children’s Safety Center to the community? Simply put, it needs to be a household name. I know that sounds a little ambitious or bold, but necessary. As a child, I fell through the cracks in the system; I didn’t have the opportunity or even know that such an option existed. If we can put the Children’s Safety Center in the spotlight, maybe we can save a  few more like myself, that needed their service and guidance in a time of need. It’s important to know that they are not alone and there are people who not only care, but truly want to help.

Fun Fact that people may not know about you and/or Little Guys? I get the most pleasure out of our young guys and gals that work with us. I know I won’t have them for long, but while I do, it brings me so much joy getting them involved in the community, teaching them the meaning of a hard day’s work, and the benefits that come along with it. We are a foundation for many future leaders in our community and other communities. Moving is just what we do in order to have the opportunity to hang out with each other – once a Little Guy always a Little Guy!

Child Abuse Myths and The Truth

Myth: It’s only abuse if it’s violent

Truth: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Child neglect, sexual and emotional abuse can inflict just as much damage, and since they’re not always as obvious, others are less likely to intervene.

Types of abuse the Children’s Safety Center saw in 2018

Myth: Abuse doesn’t happen in “good” families

Truth: Abuse and neglect doesn’t only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. These behaviors cross all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.

Myth: Most child abusers are strangers

Truth: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family.

The abuser is almost always someone the child knows and trusts

Myth: Abused children always grow up to be abusers

Truth: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents. This is why mental health therapy is so important. The Children’s Safety Center offers trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy, child parent psychotherapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing along with various types of art therapy.

Myth: Child abuse doesn’t happen here

Truth: The Children’s Safety Center saw a total of 838 children in 2018. That is a 24% increase from 2017. Most were child sexual abuse cases.

Child abuse across Washington County in 2018

For more information, download our 2018 annual impact report