Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shining light into the dark corners

What a great idea.  I do hope folks get involved.  Many times, it seems, the abuser is not a stranger or even aneighbor but someone in the immediate family.

A generational problem where no one speaks out and the abuse continues and is repeated in each new generation as the molested grow older themselves and repeat the cycle.

I hope this will help break the cycle of shame and allow people to come forward.

April activities shed light on child abuse

April is turning blue.

In an effort to promote a difficult subject, April has been dubbed Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

The Department of Family Protective Services is hosting numerous events throughout the community to aid in the promotion and to create an understanding that there are a number of ways to handle the a delicate situation, said Guadalupe County Child Protective Services investigation supervisor Michelle Cunningham.

“This is the month where the nation as a whole can come together and do activities to provide information to the communities on prevention and awareness of child abuse,” she said. ”In order for people to be comfortable they have to have the information available to them. Somebody has to speak up for these children — there has to be somebody out there in the community, whether it is a family member, whether it is somebody from the school or whether it’s a neighbor — we as a community have to protect the children of our community. If nobody speaks up for these children that need help then there is no telling what can happen to them.”

Kicking off the bluest month of the year, members of the local office were handing out materials and resource information in front of Wal-Mart on Sunday.

Two events today are centered around showing support for the lives that have been lost and the prevention of future deaths, Cunningham said.

“On Wednesday we have the state-wide ‘Go Blue’ day which is a day that is dedicated to ending child abuse and neglect and we are asking individuals in the community to wear blue,” she said. “Other things they can do is post ‘Keep Kids Safe’ posters or ‘Stop Child Abuse’ signs or they can wear blue ribbons and encourage others to wear blue in their work place or in their family to be able to show support and recognition for the children that are affected by abuse and neglect.”

Tonight at the Deitz Doll house, members of the Department of Family Protective Services invites the community to join them in a memorial to honor nearly 300 young lives that were cut short in 2009.

“We are holding a candlelight vigil at 7:30 at the Deitz Doll House in honor of the 280 children in Texas that lost their lives last year because of abuse and neglect,” she said.

Cunningham added that the location offers a symbolic meaning of how much the town values the lives of children.

“When the Deitz Family adopted a child that had come through on the orphan train 100 years ago, the community was very supportive of that child and came around and rallied for her needs,” she said. “Our community has always been supportive of our children in need and we just wanted to continue that by holding our vigil there.”

The event will honor the children with two guest speakers and the one of Seguin ISD’s 7th grade choirs, Cunningham said.

“We will have candles available but if anybody has candles they want to bring they are more than welcome to do that,” she said. “This will be the first one held here in our community and we will continue to do it every year to honor those children that have passed away due to abuse or neglect so that their memory is honored.”

To help raise funds for the organization, Cunningham said a “hard rock” concert is on the schedule of events.

“It is some of the local hard core and punk bands that are holding this concert for us as a fundraiser and an awareness event,” she said. “There are going to be several local bands that are going to be playing that night.

The event is from 5-10 p.m. on Sunday, April 11 at Sports West. Tickets are $5 per person and all ages are welcome, Cunningham said.

Businesses, organizations and community members are invited out to Sports West on Saturday, April 24 to be named the “King of the Pins.”

The group is hosting their first Bowl 4 Kids Bowl-a-Thon and is throwing down the gauntlet for any takers, Cunningham said.

Registration for the event is $75 per team of five participants — which includes shoe rental and game fees — and the deadline to sign up is April 16.

Forms can be picked up at the bowling ally or by contacting CPS.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the departments resource room, which holds supplies for families or caregivers in times of an emergency, Cunningham said.

“It is run by volunteers and is located at our office and is stocked with diapers, formula, shoes, school supplies, personal hygiene items and house hold items,” she said. “If a case worker is working with a family or has a case of an abandoned child we are able to get diapers or wipes, anything that the family or caregiver would need to provide for those kids.”

The final event that state is asking for participation in is “Blue Sunday” on April 25, Cunningham said.

“This was created to unify faith-based communities despite any difference to raise awareness and get involved in various ways for children who have endured abuse or neglect,” she said. “We are just asking any congregations who would like to participate that during their service on that Sunday to have a prayer for abuse and neglected children, as well as, the caregivers in the state of Texas.”

Cunningham added that informational materials or a staff member are available if any organization wishes to participate.

“There are other ways that they can help working with the foster care system or if they would like to donate to the resource room or they can volunteer for the agency,” she said. “State-wide the goal is to have 500 congregations participate in the Blue Sunday activities and for their participation all they would have to do is log on to the Web site and list what activities they did.”

For more information or questions on the up-coming events call 830-401-5731.

If there is a case of suspect abuse or neglect, Cunningham encourages anyone to contact CPS at (800) 252-5400.