09 Apr Louisville Groups Aim to End Child Abuse
THE COURIER JOURNAL | MARK BOXLEY | APRIL 9, 2014
More than 100 people stood at the base of the Big Four Bridge on Tuesday morning next to a field of spinning pinwheels, each representing one of Louisville’s victims of child abuse.
The group came together to support the eradication of child abuse in the city to kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, wanted attendees to walk away knowing there are many things they could do to help stop child abuse and deaths caused by abuse in Louisville. Community education on how to identify the signs of neglect and abuse, especially by medical professionals, is key, he said.
“That kind of work is vital on a day to day basis,” he said.
The event was organized by Family & Children’s Place and the Face It Movement, a Kosair Children’s Charities initiative involving the collaboration of nearly two dozen groups,including Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Schools, Kentucky YMCA, Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana and Sunrise Children’s Services.
In 2013, there were 8,518 reports of child abuse in Jefferson County, according to the Face It Movement. That number is up about 100 reports from 2012 and almost 1,500 from 2011, when 7,081 reports were filed.
In Indiana in 2012, there were 177,382 reports of child abuse or neglect, according to the Prevent Child Abuse Indiana organization.
Pam Darnall, CEO of Family & Children’s Place, urged people look beyond the data.
“Those numbers represent more than just statistics,” she said.
Each report of abuse represents a child whose life was likely changed forever because of what happened, she said. For the rest of their lives, victims could suffer from a loss of dignity, self worth, mental and emotional damage, and much more, Darnall said, and it can be something that “haunts families.”
Sadiqa Reynolds, Louisville’s chief of community building, pointed to the likely connection between abuse and neglect and the recent teen violence that started very near where the crowd stood Tuesday.
“I wonder how many of (the youths involved) experienced neglect, how many of them experienced abuse,” she said.
Society often jumps too quickly to punishment and fails to look at the cause behind the behavior, she said. Children mimic what they see, and if they’re in an abusive environment, they are much more likely to be violent themselves, she said.
It’s something the community has the ability, and responsibility, to fix, she said.
“We have to take care of our children,” she said. “We’ve got to talk about it, we’ve got to do something different.
“We have got to change things for all the children who don’t have voices.”
The gathering ended with participants pulling the pinwheels out of the ground, symbolically lifting up the children they represented, and carrying them across the Big Four Bridge.
“We’ve got to start with love,” Reynolds said. “We’ve got to start with healing.”