Proclaiming child abuse prevention month

Proclaiming child abuse prevention month
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A semi-circle of people holding paper signs aimed their gaze at Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes at the Government Center plaza on April 2. But they weren’t standing up to him—they were standing behind him. The signs were silent statistical screams ushering April in as national Child Abuse Prevention Month. Among them: “45% of abused children are under the age of five” and “over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year.”

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Barnes faced a small crowd of community members and officials as he said, “A few weeks ago at a Council meeting, we received pinwheels, and I got three because I’ve got three kids. And I took the pinwheels home, gave them to my children, and they did what all children should be able to do, which is to play with the pinwheel and enjoy the pinwheel. Have fun. All children deserve to grow up in a happy and fun space.”

But not all children do.

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“We currently receive about 1,200 calls a month from community members who are worried about children,” said Peggy Eagan, Director of the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services. “That’s a lot of children in this community. We also have 737 children in our care. Again, that’s a lot of children. I personally believe that children who come to the attention of Youth and Family Services are children we have failed in our community.”

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The group gathered at the plaza was ready to fight that failure. Many of the individuals, such as Bob Simmons, Council for Children’s Rights Executive Director, sported blue ribbons to honor Child Abuse Prevention Month. “We believe that all adults share a responsibility for creating a community where children and families can thrive,” he said. “We believe that preventing child abuse and neglect requires everybody—parents, teachers, others—to find the skills, the resources and the will to prevent child abuse and neglect.”

Trevor Fuller, Chairman of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, proudly announced a joint proclamation from the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County proclaiming the local observance of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

To kick off the multi-organizational Mecklenburg Child Abuse Prevention Team’s month-long awareness campaign to plant pinwheels around the city, every person in the plaza was invited to pick up a pinwheel and press it into the nearby soil of a flowerbed. There were no idle hands. Follow the pinwheels: #passthepinwheel.

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