Awareness is focus of seventh annual YELL & TELL rallyWritten by Michael Stainbrook | | firstname.lastname@example.org
What began with a march in Washington, D.C., seven years ago has grown into an annual event for spreading awareness about child abuse. YELL & TELL: stop child abuse now will sponsor its seventh annual rally at 1 p.m. June 27 at the Walbridge Park shelter house.
The event will feature information tables furnished by organizations, such as Lucas County Children Services and the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center. The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office will also be on hand to fingerprint children.
Mark Robinson, founder and executive director of R.E.S.T.O.R.E. Inc. and co-founder of the Northcoast Fatherhood Initiative, is the event’s main speaker. He will address the role of the father in the family and how fathers can prevent child abuse.
“The importance of the role of the father is so significant in the life of children,” said Robinson, a father of two. He supports policies promoting active fatherhood in contrast to many policies that simply track down the father when child support is lagging.
State Sen. Teresa Fedor and Mayor Michael Bell will also speak.
A 50/50 raffle and silent auction will take place as well.
This is the first year the rally will take place at Walbridge Park. Wildwood Preserve Metropark and the Springfield Twp. administrative building previously hosted the event.
YELL & TELL President Pamela Crabtree said the change in location is a chance to target a wider demographic.
“I’m really hoping we’ll get a really diverse crowd. Child abuse is running rampant in our area and it has to be stopped,” she said.
According to the Lucas County Children Services Annual Report, 4,362 reports of child abuse involving 6,280 alleged victims were made in Lucas County last year. Of these, Children Services determined there were 1,335 substantiated victims of abuse. Forty-five percent of the victims were 5 years old or younger. Physical abuse or neglect was cited in 87 percent of the substantiated claims, and another 11 percent involved sexual abuse.
Every case of child abuse is different, but many are similar to each other, Crabtree said, adding that preventing maltreatment begins within the family. About 68 percent of maltreatment victims are abused by a family member, according to the website www.childhelp.org.
“A large proportion of child abuse takes place in the home,” she said.
“Child abuse can be stopped by parents keeping communication open with their children. A child has to be comfortable they can go to their parents and say, ‘someone has touched me inappropriately’.”
According to the “Choose Your Partner Carefully” campaign Children Services promoted last year, the mother’s boyfriend was found responsible for one- third of all child abuse-related deaths in Lucas County between 2001 and 2008.
“We seem to have a lot of boyfriends who will abuse the children,” Crabtree said. “Please make sure that when you leave your child alone with your boyfriend or girlfriend you’re as sure as sure can be that that person will not abuse your child.”
According to www.childhelp.org, more than four U.S. children died every day from abuse and neglect in 2007.
“If child abusers—for instance pedophiles—if they are not stopped and reported, they can go on and, in their lifetime, they can abuse over 200 children,” Crabtree said.
“Reporting the abuser is very, very important.”
A variety of individuals and entities make the reports. According to Children Services, private individuals referred a child 22 percent of the time, and another 21 percent came from anonymous sources. Social service professionals and law enforcement officers combined for 36 percent of all referrals, while schools and teachers reported 12 percent. Medical professionals account for 7 percent of the cases.
“Child maltreatment has been decreasing, but we fear it’s going to go up this year because of the unemployment rate,” Crabtree said. “A lot of child abuse happens when there’s stresses in the family brought on by unemployment.”
Crabtree said the average American family pays $1,440 because of child abuse every year.
“If the compassion part of the protecting part doesn’t come into play, (taxpayers) need to look into their pocketbooks,” she said.
The cost of awareness and prevention has always been high, especially for Crabtree, who took great financial and emotional expense to begin YELL & TELL seven years ago when she organized the first rally in the nation’s capital.
“It started back in 2003 by a group of abuse survivors who wanted to do something instead of just talking the talk, walking the walk,” she said.
Interest was high, but committing to a trek to Washington was not cheap. Although Crabtree considered canceling the event, her family encouraged her to persevere.
“Each year we do a little bit more than we did last year.”
For more information, visit the website www.yelltell.org.
Tags: YELL & TELL