04/08/07 — Community ceremony urges residents to stop child abuse, neglect

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Community ceremony urges residents to stop child abuse, neglect

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on April 8, 2007 2:00 AM

Wayne County residents united this past week to challenge their community to make child abuse and neglect prevention a 365-day effort.

The WAGES/Wayne County For Children Council sponsored the event, which was held Thursday on the steps of city hall. The theme was "Uniting Together For Healthy Children, Families and Communities."

Coordinator Lee Mitchell said the purpose was to "bring our entire community out to unite together to prevent child abuse and neglect."

She challenged those attending to work to help stop abuse and neglect not only in April, which is child abuse prevention month, but throughout the year.

During the ceremony, Goldsboro Mayor Al King read a proclamation and talked about his childhood. He said others noted how well he was raised and how well-behaved he was even as a child.

"I didn't know it was that obvious," he said. "But I did know that if didn't pay respect to my elders, I was going to get killed by my mother."

He encouraged all parents to spend time with their children and to let them know they are the parents and their children are the children, instead of the other way around.

Charisse Johnson of the Department of Social Services stressed child abuse prevention should be a constant effort, not just one day or one month out of the year.

"It takes all of us together to make sure our children are safe and healthy," Ms. Johnson said. "When we see a child whose needs are not being met, it's our responsibility to make sure their needs are met and (they are) safe and do everything we can to make a child whole."

Joining Wayne County was the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base community. Col. Russell Walden, commander of the 4th Mission Support Group. He said the event was a good opportunity for the base to join with the civilian community to protect the country's greatest hope -- its children.

Walden discussed ways Seymour Johnson is using various activities to celebrate Month of the Military Child on base.

Walden emphasized that many abused children battle back, recover and go on to lead very successful lives.

"There's always that hope -- if we help," he said, adding that adults can give a voice to children who can't speak for themselves. "God bless the future of America and our children."

In addition to a song by Jason Michael Carroll about a young abuse victim, students from Edna Turner's occupational course of study and English classes at Eastern Wayne High School displayed posters they had made about child abuse and neglect and read two essays they wrote on the subject.

At the end of the ceremony, a flag raising was held. The red flag has blue silhouettes of four children on it. In the middle is the outline of a missing child, to represent children everywhere who are abused and neglected.