ELIZABETHTOWN — Every year, 6.6 million children in America are reported to be the victims of maltreatment, and of those, reports are substantiated for enough children to fill 10 modern-day football stadiums.
To highlight the issue, the Bladen County Department of Social Services of hosting its annual Child Abuse Awareness event — and butterflies wlil be one of the main attractions.
The walk will begin at noon in the San Jose parking lot, proceed east down West Broad Street, and end at the Bladen County Courthouse lawn. The Bladen County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand to distribute information about opioid abuse, the rise of which has been seen concurrently with the rise in child abuse and neglect, as well as letting people know about how to obtain lock boxes for medication. Parenting information from DSS, as well as child care information, will be available for participants.
For many, the most moving part of the day is the calling out of the names of North Carolina children who have died at the hands of abusers. Typically, the names of the children, as well as the cause of death and age of the child, are read aloud while balloons are released for each child. This year, however, the ceremony will be taking flight.
“We usually release balloons when we call out the names, but this year we’re going to release butterflies,” explained Bladen County Department of Social Services’ Jill Sampson. “Families First donated the butterflies, and it’s going to be a beautiful ceremony.”
“It will be good for the environment, too,” she added.
Regular attendees of the Child Abuse Awareness Walk may notice other changes this year as well. Sampson said because the Department has been involved in extensive training of a new organizational system, some of the event’s staples will not be on hand this year at the courthouse, like face painting and games.
The child services worker has high hopes for the Bladen County walk.
“We hope everybody will come out and bring all their friends and family to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect in Bladen County,” Sampson remarked.
The Bladen County Child Abuse Awareness event will take place Saturday, April 28, in Elizabethtown.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.