April 16, 2009
Chamber kicks off Child Abuse Awareness
The Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce released 275 balloons from the courtsquare April 1, all representing a victim of child abuse in Marshall County.
“Each blue one represents a case investigated in Marshall County,” said Amy Heaton, executive director of the chamber. “And the bundle of white ones is in memory of the one child who lost her life because of child abuse (in 2007).”
Heaton kicked off the chamber’s second annual Child Abuse Awareness Month Ceremony.
“There is no excuse for child abuse,” she said.
Lynn Pullen, chamber president and regional director of the Division of Youth Services for the Mississippi Department of Human Services, said the “project is very dear to me.”
Kelly McMillen, investigator with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, called child abuse “a terrible, terrible thing.”
“We investigate a lot of these cases, and a lot are not reported,” McMillen said.
He and Minnie Hoey, area social worker with the Division of Family and Children Services, announced Mississippi’s Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-222-8000.
“If you know of somebody going through a situation with a child abuse problem, you can make the call,” McMillen said.
He said modern technology, such as computers, cell phones and cameras, has increased the exploitation of children.
“There are lot of situations where a child it not able to handle it or understand it,” McMillen said.
Hoey said in 2008 there were 396 reports of child abuse and neglect in Marshall County – an average of 21 a month.
Andre’ DeBerry, mayor of Holly Springs, read a proclamation designating April as “The Month of the Child.”
“There is a need for activities promoting responsible, informed parenthood,” DeBerry said, “and for expanding proven state and community-based approaches in order to reverse current patterns of abuse and neglect.”
Tony Roberts, pastor of Heritage Apostolic Church, led the group in prayer.
Heaton recognized the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, Rust College Families First, McDonald’s and Connie’s Flowers for their contributions.
She also recognized Sandra Panzo with Youth Services who helped coordinate the event and others from the Mississippi Department of Human Services in attendance.
Many in attendance, including a group of seniors from Marshall Academy, helped tie blue ribbons around the courtsquare as part of the Child Abuse Awareness Month ceremony. The ribbons will remain in place throughout the month.
In the spring of 1989 in Chesapeake, Virginia, Bonnie Finney, a grandmother, began what was to become the Blue Ribbon Campaign. She decided to tie a blue ribbon on her van as a testimonial to her 3-year-old grandson who was murdered by his mother’s abusive boyfriend.
“Blue serves as a constant reminder to me to fight for protection of our children,” she told a newspaper reporter in Richmond.
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