Monday, April 9, 2012

April: Child Abuse Awareness Month

Today, First Lady Dianne Bentley attended the Montgomery County Commission meeting and the members  declared April as Child Abuse Awareness Month. They also took time to recognize an advocate for our children and families, Karen Sellers, the Executive Director of the Family Sunshine Center. Mrs. Bentley was pleased to bring a message from herself and the Governor, when she congratulated and thanked Mrs. Sellers for her tireless efforts to end violence.

Karen Sellers passed out blue ribbons to the meeting attendees and asked people to spread awareness and learn more about child abuse and neglect. This is a part of the Blue Ribbon Campaign that the Family Sunshine Center is supporting. Family Sunshine Center is a non-profit agency that provides shelter, hope, and healing to victims of family violence in seven south-central Alabama counties.

In 1989, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse was started by a Virginia grandmother to pay tribute to her grandson, a child abuse victim. She tied a blue ribbon around her car antenna as a way to remember him and to alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse.

The Blue Ribbon Campaign has since expanded across the country. To participate,  people should decorate a tree or area with blue ribbons. The Alabama Governor's Mansion will showcase blue ribbons on the gates during the month in honor of victims and prevention efforts. This will be done in tribute to the approximately one million children in our nation who have suffered abuse or neglect.

Some statistics:
The National Child Abuse and Neglect System estimated 1,530 child fatalities in 2006. This translates to 2.04 children per 100,000.
 In 2007, there were 31,362 reported cases of child abuse and neglect in the state of Alabama.

Child Abuse and Neglect not only directly harm children, but also increase the likelihood of criminal behavior, substance abuse, health problems (i.e. heart disease, obesity), and risky behavior such as smoking.

Some infamous victims of abuse are Charles Manson, Adolph Hitler, and Lee Harvey Oswald.
The estimated cost of child abuse and neglect to Alabama taxpayers each year is $520,800,290.

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