03/25/07 — Organization plans event to raise child abuse awareness in county

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Organization plans event to raise child abuse awareness in county

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on March 25, 2007 2:02 AM

Every 15 minutes a child is abused or neglected in North Carolina. Every nine days, a child dies as a result of homicide.

The victims range in age from newborns to teenagers.

To help stop the abuse and neglect -- and death -- Wayne County will come together for an awareness event April 5.

A Child Abuse Prevention 365 Ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on the steps of City Hall. It is being sponsored by the WAGES Wayne County for Children Council.

There will be several speakers including Mayor Al King; a representative from Sey-mour Johnson Air Force Base; Patricia Colon, director of WAGES Children and Family program; and the Rev. Don Sauls from Pikeville Pente-costal Free Will Baptist Church.

"It is open to all of Wayne County for people who have a passion for children," said Sonya Strouse, council president.

The ceremony will kick off a month of activities as April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Throughout the month, there will be public service announcements concerning child abuse and neglect prevention.

There will also be a blue ribbon magnet sale. The magnets, which say "protect our children," are to be put on cars. The cost of the magnet is $5. They can be purchased at WAGES, Wayne County Partnership for Children and the office of Cheryl Alleman, CPA. Proceeds go to the council's ongoing prevention activities.

In addition to these activities, the council is collaborating with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority on a blue ribbon campaign, Mrs. Strouse said. Cards with child abuse and neglect prevention information with a small blue ribbon attached to them will be available free at local businesses.

"We're asking people to look for these and pick up one in April," Mrs. Strouse said. "We want people to wear that ribbon during the month of April to show their support of child abuse prevention efforts."

Mrs. Strouse said another project residents can do on their own is put up a blue bow on their front door, on a tree in their yard on their mailbox or at their business.

"So anybody riding by will see the blue bow and know that this is a house or business where there are people who care about children," she said. "That's just a way that people personally can show their support."

The council's main goal, according to Mrs. Strouse, is to keep child abuse prevention efforts in the minds of residents all year round.

"That's why we have child abuse prevention 365, meaning that this is something that we have to keep on the forefront of people's minds 365 days a year. Nationally, in April everybody's thinking about it and doing activities. But we can't let it only be that one month of the year that we really try to make an effort. It's got to be year round."

Mrs. Strouse said this is an effort that's needed. "You can hardly pick up a newspaper without reading something that has happened in a family. If there had been some type of early intervention, maybe this would not have happened.

"It takes an entire community to prevent child abuse and neglect. We all have a responsibility that if we see something or are aware of something going on that doesn't seem quite right, report it."