05/01/05 — County advocates take stand against child abuse, neglect

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County advocates take stand against child abuse, neglect

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 1, 2005 2:02 AM

America's children are being abused and neglected -- even in Wayne County, and the community has to come together to protect them.

That was the message the Wayne County For Children Council was trying to get out at its Child Abuse Prevention 365 -- Banding Together For Healthy Children, Families and Communities Ceremony Thursday.

Local residents gathered on the steps of City Hall to hear statistics and learn what they can do to help prevent abuse and neglect.

City Councilman Jimmy Bryan read a proclamation signed by Mayor Al King designating child abuse as a community problem that requires everyone's attention.

During the ceremony, it was noted that five million children are reported abused and neglected in this country each year and about 113,000 cases happened in North Carolina last year. During 2003, 30 children were victims of child abuse homicide in this state.

Members of the For Children Council listed several actions already being taken to address child abuse and neglect including:

*The Exchange Club of Goldsboro is distributing blue ribbon magnets in Wayne County and has published an article about child abuse in the newspaper.

*Community Child Protection is sponsoring a poster contest and distributing blue ribbons throughout April.

*Wayne County Partnership for Children had a program recently, which featured Clifford the Big Red Dog and the Southern Wayne Show Choir.

*WAGES sponsored a display at the recent Latino Health Fair.

*The Wayne County For Children Council is sponsoring the Banding Together Program for health children, families and communities, which will continue throughout the year. Local agencies and businesses are being featured on awareness posters, which will be displayed throughout the county.

Charisse Johnson, For Children Council member, explained that during April, people throughout Wayne County came together to acknowledge that children are abused and neglected each day in this state.

"But we plan on talking about children abuse prevention 365 days of the year because it doesn't just happen in the month of April," she said. "Children are abused and neglected every day. Statistics say that about every five minutes a child is abused and neglected and if that's true, then we know that our work is never done."

Mrs. Johnson said people see in the newspaper and on television frequently about the "horrific" things that happen to children. "The only way we know to support our Department of Social Services, the Guardian Ad Litem program and the community is to keep positive messages out there and keep reminding the community that it's everybody's responsibility to make sure we have healthy children, healthy families and healthy communities.

"Wayne County is not exempt from the impact of child abuse and neglect. We do a really good job through our programs, but until no child is abused and neglected, we haven't done enough."

Event organizer and For Children Council member Verna Best, stressed that it's very important for everyone to recognize that child abuse and neglect is something that's hidden, but something that should be very visible.

"Our children are bright and intelligent and they need all the love and nurturing that they deserve in order to really be productive citizens," she said. "We want to stop abuse and neglect now. We don't want any other incident where children are killed or neglected."

Mrs. Best encouraged individuals and organizations to band together to support Wayne County's children.

"If we don't join together to support our children, they will be a lost generation," she said.