04/11/06 — Children's group - Community can help stop abuse, neglect

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Children's group - Community can help stop abuse, neglect

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on April 11, 2006 1:47 PM

Wayne County residents and child advocates gathered Monday to do their part to make sure that not one more name is added to the list of 111,581 children who were abused and neglected in North Carolina last year.

The Wayne County For Children Council sponsored the ceremony at City Hall which was drew attention to child abuse and neglect prevention.

Council chairman Verna Best of WAGES stressed that the work to prevent child abuse and neglect should take place 365 days a year.

The purpose of the ceremony, she added, was to make the community aware of the problem and its victims -- and to show those in attendance how they can be part of the solution.

She said all over the world, human service agencies, faith communities and others are celebrating children and commissioning parents, caregivers, businesses and schools to partner to protect all children.

Ms. Best challenged those attending to do their part to provide love, opportunities and guidance to all of the county's children, the idea behind the theme for the event -- "Banding Together for Healthy Children, Families and Communities."

Mayor Al King, who also spoke at the ceremony, noted 31 children died in North Carolina in 2004. He said the effects of child abuse are felt by whole communities and need to be addressed by the entire community.

During the ceremony, members of the For Children Council presented a flag to the mayor for the city to fly. It has five blue silhouettes of children on it representing all children. In the middle is a missing silhouette, which represents children who have been killed as a result of abuse and neglect.

Katrina Gay of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina said communities really can make a difference.

"The primary responsibility for the welfare of children are parents, but they can't do it alone. They need support from the community with activities to promote healthy parenting. They need social support from the church, community and neighbors."

Ms. Gay said parenting is a learned process and that all parents have the potential to be good. "No family should have to raise a child in isolation."

Representing Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was Col. Lennie T. Coleman, 4th Mission Support Group commander. He said that awareness about the problem of child abuse and neglect needs to be raised in schools, homes and across the county.

"Nothing is valued and more important to us at the base then our families and our children," he said.

Closing the ceremony was the Rev. Joseph A. Strouse, Faro Chapel Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church.

Other child abuse and neglect prevention activities include a sports clinic, essay and poster contests, care packages and a candlelight vigil.