ELIZABETHTOWN — “Help stop child abuse!” cries filled the air in Elizabethtown on Saturday as concerned citizens from Bladen County, as well as some from Brunswick County, met together for the 10th annual Child Abuse Awareness Walk.
“It’s been a great day,” said Vikie Smith, director of the Bladen County Department of Social Services, as the activities were winding down.
Participants met at the San Jose parking lot and noon and made their way east on West Broad Street carrying signs with messages such as “Love” and “End child abuse.”
Upon arriving at the courthouse lawn, Bladen County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services Supervisor Jill Sampson welcomed guests and read aloud the names of children in North Carolina who died at the hands of abusers in the last year. Dozens of names were read — first initial and last name — along with the age of the child. Victims ranged from 4 days to 15 years old.
A speaker read aloud the following from an anonymous source: “A butterfly lights beside us, like a sunbeam … and for a brief moment its glory and beauty belong to our world … but then it flies on again, and although we wish it could have stayed, we are so thankful to have seen it at all.”
A box of butterflies — one for each child who passed away — was opened and the creatures released into the air. Many of them alit on the courthouse lawn clover, and some of the children, as well as adults, spent time observing their erratically beautiful flight.
After the ceremony, snacks were provided for guests, as was educational literature about child abuse and mental health services in general.
Cynthia Mungia brought two grandchildren to the event, and as they played happily with butterflies and collected clover, she watched them contemplatively.
“A lot of these kids look normal, just like any other kid you’d see at school,” she commented. “You’d never know what’s going on at home, and since it’s sometimes not obvious, they often get overlooked. Events like this are important to highlight what’s going on, to make people aware, and to help them to stop and think and take a hard look at the children in their lives.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.