SKOWHEGAN — The Kennebec Valley Community Action Program was awarded funding from the Maine Children’s Trust to implement a three-year pilot project charged with preventing child abuse and neglect in Somerset County. Grants were also awarded to the child abuse and neglect councils in Franklin and Androscoggin counties.

Somerset County currently holds the highest rates in the state for child neglect and both emotional and physical child abuse. Identifying risk factors such as substance abuse, domestic violence and poor mental health is vital in order to develop responsive prevention strategies that support families throughout the entire county, according to a KVCAP news release.

In partnership between DHHS and the Maine Children’s Trust, KVCAP will lead the Somerset Initiative. A local community group has been established and includes key community stakeholders and people who work with children and families throughout the county. This group will focus on identifying gaps in programs and supports for families and select relevant evidence-based prevention strategies. Members will engage in a strategic planning process that will ultimately help coordinate and enhance child abuse and neglect prevention services in this region.

In support of the Somerset Initiative, KVCAP will sponsor a free public viewing of the film “Paper Tigers” at 5 p.m. Feb. 4 at Skowhegan Area High School. This film provides and intimate look into the lives of selected students at Lincoln High School, and alternative school that specializes in educating traumatized youth in the rural community of Walla Walla, Washington.

Exposure to chronic and adverse stress (and the altered brain function that results) leaves a child in a fruitless search for comfort and escape from a brain and body that is permanently stuck in flight or fight. That comfort comes in the form of drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, sex, food and more.

But, as “Paper Tigers” shows us, there is hope.

Following six students over the course of a school year, we see Lincoln’s staff try a new approach to discipline — one that is based on understanding and treatment rather than judgement and suspension. Paper Tigers is a testament to what the latest developmental science is showing. That just one caring adult can help break the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life.

For more information about the Somerset Initiative or the movie, contact Kristen Plummer at 2859-2520 or [email protected].

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.