“It takes a community to solve incidents of child abuse,” according to Esterlee Molyneux, Executive Director of The Family Place. “This is our community and these are our children,” she said.
In an effort to draw attention to the problem of child abuse in Cache Valley, and bolster ways to improve it, The Family Place held its 10th annual “Steppin’ Up for Kids” event on the steps of the Cache County Courthouse Monday.
Four-hundred-twenty pairs of children’s shoes were placed on the courthouse steps as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month held each year in April.
“Each pair representing a child who has had a substantiated case of child abuse,” according to Molyneux, who said there were 789 investigations in Cache and Rich counties during the past year, ranging from neglect, physical and sexual abuse. The highest number of child neglect cases result from parents who are abusing drugs and alcohol.
The goal of the organization is to strengthen families and protect children.
“What we’ve learned is that most parents want to do the very best they can for their children,” according to Molyneux. “But sometimes they just don’t know how. Sometimes they don’t have the skills that they need.”
“We are there to teach, to educate, to show new ways to help family systems work as efficiently and as best they can,” she said.
A number of child abuse advocates attended and spoke during the 30 minute ceremony, including Sam Malouf, CEO of Malouf Sleep and Malouf Foundation.
“We help bring attention to the cause so that people know what to look for and what types of treatments are available,” said Malouf.
The Malouf Foundation focuses on the rescue and shelter of sexually exploited and trafficked children, stopping physical and sexual abuse, and supporting children and families in need.
“Once you are aware and informed of the situation, challenges, struggles and maladies out there, it seems like a pretty obvious thing to try to help make it better for ourselves and the people who are around,” said Malouf.
To help inform the public, the Malouf Foundation is creating a speaker series where experts will talk about the dangers facing our children.
“A former FBI undercover agent will come speak about how as parents and citizens we can be aware of how children are being groomed, trapped and approached by predators, specifically digitally.”
Malouf said the inaugural event will be held at 7 p.m., April 30th, at Logan High School.
The Family Place is a non-profit family support center with locations in Logan, Hyrum, and Smithfield.
The center has been providing educational, therapeutic and supportive services to individuals and families in Cache and Rich counties for 37 years.
For more information on how you can help and ways you can donate, contact The Family Place at (435) 725-8880 or visit www.TheFamilyPlaceUtah.org