April 22 Yell & Tell rally places focus on child abuseWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
When Yell & Tell: Stop Child Abuse Now, Inc. had its first rally in 2004, founder Pamela Crabtree wasn’t sure it’d ever have another. However, years later, the organization is planning its ninth rally.
“We’re not going anywhere. We’re not a threat to any of the big guys. We want to work in concert,” Crabtree said. Her group will have its ninth annual Yell & Tell: Stop Child Abuse Now Rally on April 22 at the Walbridge Park Shelter House. April is also National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The first rally took place in Washington, D.C., and due to high costs, Crabtree wasn’t positive it would happen again. At her family’s encouragement, however, she brought the rally to Toledo where it has flourished. Throughout the years, keynote speakers have included Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and State Rep. Teresa Fedor.
“Each year, since 2005, we have grown in stature and respect,” Crabtree said.
This year, University of Toledo head football coach Matt Campbell will give the keynote speech and Becky Shock of 93.5 WRQN will emcee the rally. For entertainment, the Distinguished Clown Corps and soloist Amy Gibson are set to perform.
Several local groups including Lucas County Children Services, Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center and Mercy Health Partners will be on site with more information. In addition, the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office will provide fingerprinting of children and give parents the records, Crabtree said. A silent auction gives eventgoers a chance to bid on Toledo Mud Hens tickets, car services and other prizes. Children will also receive a coloring book in English or Spanish that outlines inappropriate touching.
Crabtree, a survivor of abuse, was inspired to start her group after an experience on an Internet message board that she frequented with other survivors. The message board would occasionally get posts from young people who said they were being abused. Crabtree knew she had to do something.
“I got to the point where I posted a message where I said, ‘We’ve got to do more. We need to walk the walk,’” she said. “We have to tell [the children] to yell immediately. They have to yell and tell.”
Crabtree did not come forward with her story until she was in her mid-40s. “I did not feel comfortable telling anyone because I thought I had done something dirty. I was oblivious to the fact I was a victim of a crime,” she said. Crabtree also wrote a book based on her experiences “The Gift of Hurt,” available at www.pamelacrabtree.com.
“I know now of the importance of survivors, be it boys or girls, to come forth immediately,” Crabtree said, adding that some survivors can become depressed or turn to substance abuse so getting help is crucial.
Society should work toward ending child abuse and make sure to report cases of suspected abuse, Crabtree said. The average amount a family pays in taxes because of child abuse is $1,460 annually, she added.
“If you don’t want to go strictly for the compassionate side of helping kids because you’re afraid to report the abuser … Well, then look at the figure that’s taken out of your budget each year,” Crabtree said.
Some people don’t report suspected child abuse because they fear separating families, which is a misguided notion, Crabtree said.
“I can tell you that the police, Lucas County Children Services or any other child protection order, they don’t want to go in there and pull that child out; they want to help that child,” she said.
In 2011, Lucas County Children Services received 4,148 referrals of suspected child abuse involving 6,046 children. The agency learned that 587 area children were abused or neglected. Thirty-two percent of children served stayed in their own homes, 31 percent lived with a relative, 32 percent were placed in foster care and 5 percent went to a group home or private institution.
Crabtree also recommended that guardians keep open lines of communication so children feel comfortable talking to them. Parents and adults should also be careful to observe signs of child abuse such as changes in sleep patterns or even pregnancy.
In addition, parents should be certain it is safe to leave children with the parent’s boyfriend or girlfriend before doing so.
“Once we can protect our
children, the ripple effect will be mammoth and we can stop child abuse, that’s something we do have control of,” Crabtree said.
The free rally is 1 p.m. April 22 at the Walbridge Park Shelter House on Broadway Street, across from the Toledo Zoo. For more information or to donate, visit www.yelltell.org. To report a case of suspected child abuse, call (419) 213-CARE.
Tags: Distinguished Clown Corps, Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center, Lucas County Children Services, Mercy Health Partners, Walbridge Park Shelter House, YELL & TELL, Yell & Tell: Stop Child Abuse Now Rally