The Wayne County Child Abuse Prevention Community Team is planning four events this year to raise awareness and educate the public on the subject.
“It’s one of the few things in our society that’s 100 percent preventable, and that makes it inexcusable,” said Kriquette Davis, YMCA vice president of operations. “You’re not talking about something they can’t find a cure for.”
She is passionate on the topic, in part because she experienced it herself as a child.
There are an estimated 42 million survivors of child abuse, and it is not something one “gets over,” she said. The stigma is far-reaching — to the child, others who may eventually be told, and the community at large.
To those on the receiving end of child abuse — who either keep silent because of threats made by the perpetrator or from the stigma of fear or shame — it can have long-term effects.
“You can’t focus on school work, you can’t focus on life with all that kind of background noise going on,” Davis said. “And now I realize all the medical issues that come about with it, too. There’s so many different things.”
Having background checks and sex offender registries is effective, but they are not the panacea for everything, she added. In her case, for example, the perpetrator’s name would never have shown up in a background check as he had never been charged.
While Davis has worked through some of her own issues over the years, she admitted it has “shaped my life” and prompted her to be more of an advocate for others.
“I categorize myself as a survivor rather than a victim because if I categorize myself as a victim, that means he won, and he’s not going to win anymore,” she said. “The reason I champion this is that our children deserve to grow up with their innocence intact. I mean, that’s the least we can do for them so they can grow up to be productive citizens.”
Davis has been affiliated with several other efforts in the state, including being appointed in August to the North Carolina Domestic VIolence Commission and previously serving as chairman of the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence from 2010-12.
But the local efforts remain near and dear to her heart, which is why the “Caring Communities Helping Families Prevent Child Abuse” events each spring are so important.
“It started off as a partnership with the child advocate agencies in the county — we just did a proclamation ceremony, but we decided that we need to expand and have it more available to more people,” Davis said.
The popular ceremony, held on the steps of City Hall in downtown Goldsboro, expanded last year to a flag raising at the YMCA, both of which will take place this year along with two additional events.
The Child Abuse Prevention Month activities will kick off with the proclamation ceremony on March 27 at 10 a.m. on the steps of City Hall. Judge Ericka James will be the featured speaker.
The second annual flag raising will take place April 9 at 11:30 a.m. at Wayne UNC Health Care.
A free screening of “Resilience” will be offered April 17 at noon at the Paramount Theatre. The film, which spotlights the long-term medical effects child abuse can have on a person, is being made available by the Partnership for Children of Wayne County.
And the closing ceremony will be held April 30 at the YMCA at noon.
The public is welcome to all of the activities, which are free.
There are many resources available, two that Davis recommended for anyone desiring more information on child abuse prevention and where to seek help. They are Darkness to Light, www.d2l.org, or Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, preventchildabusenc.org or 919-829-8009.