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Advocating for our safe village

By Staff | May 7, 2021

Many times, I have wanted to reach out to the public. As a Jefferson County School Board member, I have been hesitant to speak out, not wanting to represent the entire school board. However, this letter is personal. This letter is written as Donna Joy, a mother who is in a unique position to advocate for the health and well-being of children. I am just one of five school board members.

Again, this letter is written by Donna, an individual community member concerned about our children. Yes, all children are “our” children. We are the adults and we must take a stand for them.

When I read the article in the April 28, 2021 edition of The Spirit of Jefferson about a seven-year-old student who had been severely abused, I was sickened! I felt for the little angel who said, “Daddy beats me when I’m bad because he hits the hardest.”

How can a seven-year-old child, malnourished, crawling on the floor, be so bad to deserve to sleep in the dog’s bed?

Yesterday, I read another article in the Spirit about children in Jefferson County being sexually abused. I wondered if they too were enrolled in Jefferson County Schools. I wondered if they had been absent and no one checked on them. After reading about yet another child having been abused, I grew angry again.

I understand that many have no frame of reference for what it is like for a child to be so badly abused, but collectively, we can try to help or prevent another child from adverse experiences. This letter is written in hopes to engage our community to watch out for the well-being of our neighbors. If you see evidence of a child being neglected, please let a mandatory reporter know.

In addition to asking the public to be vigilant for our students, I am also asking my colleagues on the Jefferson County School Board to add the requirement of “meaningful eyes” to our missing “truant” student policy. We can go above and beyond the state of West Virginia’s minimum truancy requirements. I would like for Jefferson County Schools to put in policy that we will require “meaningful eyes” on a child that has not been seen by a caring adult for 10 consecutive days.

I still believe it takes a village to raise a child. Will you join me in advocating for our safe village?

Donna Joy, of Shepherdstown