LIMA — In 2013, 967 abuse and neglect reports were made on behalf of 2,334 Allen County children.
For children who endure abuse daily and for the four children who die each day in the United States because of violence, Allen County officials raised the children’s memorial flag Tuesday at the Allen County Courthouse. The event kicked off Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.
“We fight child abuse and neglect every day in our community and state and country. It’s on the increase,” Allen County Children Services Executive Director Scott Ferris said. “We have strong community engagement here and we want to thank the people who do their jobs. It’s a chance for them to recharge their batteries for the next 12 months and encourage everyone to take time out of their day to thank people who do this.”
In 2000, a California high school student designed the flag; it shows five paper doll-like figures and a sixth represented by a thin white chalk line, symbolizing a child lost to violence.
“We all know that there are vulnerable and hurting children living among us. For those children we know that being abused and neglected can be devastating and cause lasting harm,” Ferris said.
One of the tragedies of abuse is that people who are supposed to be loving and protecting are doing the harm, Allen County Family and Children First Council Director Jenny Horner said.
“We know all abuse and neglect leaves wounds. A child’s sense of self can be crushed. A growing spirit is held down and a capacity to trust is taken away replaced by fear and betrayal,” Horner said. “Every day, four wonderful, fun, smart, strong children much like your own loved ones die needlessly in our country.”
Other events to mark the month include the Pinwheels for Prevention Ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Monday at Lima Memorial Health System and the 20th annual Community for Kids’ Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. April 24 at Veterans Memorial Civic Center.
On April 9, the public is invited to participate in Wear Blue Day. People can take pictures of themselves wearing blue and send those pictures of Mike Carpenter at firstname.lastname@example.org to be posted on the Allen County Children Services website that day.