04/03/08 — Ceremony pushes for child abuse prevention

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Ceremony pushes for child abuse prevention

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on April 3, 2008 1:46 PM

Child abuse and child neglect will not be tolerated in Wayne County, county residents said Wednesday.

WAGES For Children Council of Wayne County sponsored the abuse and neglect prevention ceremony on the steps of Goldsboro City Hall.

The theme for this year's awareness campaign is "Child Abuse Prevention 365."

Goldsboro Mayor Al King proclaimed April as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month in the city.

King noted that five million children are reported abused or neglected in the United States each year. About 111,150 children were reported abused or neglected in North Carolina during 2006, the most recent year for which statistics have been compiled. Last year, 34 children in North Carolina died as a result of child abuse.

King said the effects of child abuse are long-lasting and are felt by the community. Therefore, he said, the entire community needs to address the problem. He urged people to get involved in preventing and halting child abuse.

Regina Harvey, a member of the For Children Council, said those who volunteer to give their time in almost any program involving youths have a chance to help prevent abuse.

Other ways to make a difference include organizing a community watch, volunteering at school and getting involved with organizations that help children and their families.

"We have children who are hurting, families in crisis," Ms. Harvey said. "You can't always count on someone else doing it. And the payoff will be healthier families and healthier and safer communities."

Joining with the civilian community to talk about putting a stop to child abuse and neglect were representatives of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Col. Stephen W. Higgins, 4th Medical Group commander, said children are the nation's most precious resource.

Air Force families face unique challenges, he said, including frequent moves from one community to another and enduring long separations due to deployments. Military officials are aware that the potential for abuse exists, he said, and are on the alert to its signs.

Higgins said that the base has more than 2,000 children in the county school system. Base personnel volunteer in many different ways to help the schools and other organizations that work with young people, he said. Air Force officials recognize the need to be a supportive part of the community, he said, especially its youth.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Seymour Johnson officials raised the child abuse prevention flag. The flag displays paper dolls on it with one in the middle missing to represent children who have died from abuse and neglect.