COVINGTON -- In the wake of child murders in Newton and Rockdale counties, "both of our communities really are in crisis right now," said Diane Howington, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale. "I know people want to see it change. I kind of feel like we're at a point where we could go either way. Either care about our kids and change their lives or let it keep going the way it's going."
Howington is referring to the September death of a 7-year-old Newton boy, allegedly at the hands of his mother's boyfriend. In Rockdale County, a husband and wife were recently sentenced to life without parole plus 30 years in the beating death of the wife's 5-month-old, and another man was convicted of killing his girlfriend's 2-year-old for wetting his pants.
"With what's happened in the last few months around here, I think it's opening people's eyes that we're not just sleepy town anymore and we all have to look after each other," Howington said.
Free classes are offered to help parents learn communication skills, assess their parenting style and identify what they want to change. The last session drew 100 participants.
Because the demand is so high, volunteers are needed to help facilitate these classes, called Active Parenting Now. Facilitator training will take place Saturday, Nov. 10 for those interested in helping.
Volunteers come from all walks of life, from school principals, to foster parents, to business professionals, to homemakers, Howington said.
The most important characteristics of a good facilitator are being a good listener, being compassionate and most of all, caring about children, she said.
Volunteers will learn the Active Parenting Now video-based curriculum and will learn from a certified parent education trainer how to address needs of parents who attend the classes.
Training begins at 9 a.m. and goes until noon, with a break for lunch. After lunch, a mandated reporting class, required for those attending training, will take place from 12:30 to 1 p.m., followed by a training session focused on parents of teens from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The training takes place at Troy State University at 8134 Geiger St. in Covington.
Training is free but those who would like to become a certified Active Parenting Now instructor must pay a $15 fee.
Those who complete certification will facilitate upcoming Active Parenting Now programs, set to begin in January. There is already a waiting list to get into the program, Howington said, so the demand is great in the community.
"A lot of people just want to finetune their parenting skills. It's kind of crazy how we all just wing it when there's so much information out there. We all get thrown into parenting so we wind up parenting the way we were parented, or if we don't like that we go the other way and that may not be a good thing either. Everybody out there wants to have a happy, healthy family. Nobody wants to spend their days miserable, screaming and yelling," Howington said.
Active Parenting Now teaches proactive versus reactive parenting, she said.
"These children are getting hurt from people reacting and not being able to control themselves," she said.
There is no commitment involved in attending the training, Howington said.
"Come and see what it's all about," she said.
The registration deadline is Tuesday. To register call Howington at 770-483-7333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.