Empty shoes kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month

Despite another snow-filled morning, over 100 people turned out to officially kick off a campaign to end child abuse Thursday. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Child and Family Support Center held a presentation and ribbon cutting ceremony on the steps of the Historic Cache County Courthouse.The courthouse steps were not covered with snow, but with hundreds of children’s shoes that represented every substantiated case of abuse that occurred in Cache County in 2009.”These 237 pairs of shoes are 237 pairs too many,” CFSC Director Esterlee Molyneux said to the crowd. “We have got to do everything that we can to keep our children safe.”The mission of the Child and Family Support Center is “strengthening families and protecting children.” Molyneux said the state of Utah, and even Cache County, spends a lot of resources mopping up after abuse.”The state of Utah spends over $1.5 billion per year on the ramifications from child abuse,” Molyneux said. She went on to say that it is no small amount in Cache County either. “In Cache County, 27 million of those dollars have been spent on dealing with the ramifications of child abuse.”With over 3,100 visits to the crisis respite nursery over the last fiscal year, Molyneux expressed gratitude to those parents who knew to find help before abuse occurred. She also expressed appreciation to community leaders and parents who are actively involved in children’s lives.”My deepest gratitude goes out to parents,” she said, “parents that are doing their very best to raise their children in a safe and loving environment.”The CFSC has several events throughout the month of April to draw awareness to child abuse in the community and raise much-needed funds to keep the doors open for the center. The center will be hosting its annual Blue Ribbon Dinner and Auction, a Race Against Child Abuse, and the annual Spot the Flock campaign.Cache County Attorney James Swink also made a brief presentation on the courthouse steps. He used his background as a prosecuting attorney to illustrate the need for abuse prevention.”It is our goal at the County Attorney’s office to lay off attorneys,” he said. “We don’t want to prosecute these crimes. We want to see these shoes shrink in number.” Swink said the best way for that to happen is for parents to be involved with their children and know what they are doing in their free time.”They not only help pick up the pieces after,” Swink said of the center, “they not only give counseling, give shelter and provide ongoing care for children that have been abused, they want to prevent abuse from ever happening.”He also pointed to recent research that troubles him about abuse among youth. “There are studies that show that video games and the violence in those video games affect children,” Swink said. “And I would stand here, as the Cache County Attorney, and report that is absolutely true because we see it time and time again in juvenile court as youth perpetrate on other youth.”To conclude the meeting, more than a dozen children lined the bottom of the courthouse steps for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month.An emotional Molyneux concluded her remarks by reminding those in attendance of the importance of treating children properly.”Children are only 20-percent of our population but they are 100-percent of our future.”For more information about the Child and Family Support Center and its activities for Child Abuse Prevention Month, call 752-8880.

Part 1 of the Steppin’ Up for Children event on April 1, 2010

Part 2 of the Steppin’ Up for Children event on April 1, 2010

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