Protecting children at the fore of awareness month

Published 6:24 am Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A quiet stillness permeated the once lively gathering of those who came to celebrate the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center’s kickoff of Child Abuse Awareness Month on Monday.

A young mother, choked with emotion, told the story of how child abuse had  “shattered the innocence” of her then-8-year-old daughter and normalcy ceased to exist for her family.

“We became benefactors of the services of this center,” she said. “Here, they helped us endure this traumatic situation. God has helped my daughter to forgive the man who did this to her, and God has helped me have forgiveness in my heart. We can forgive, but we cannot forget.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. said that, because of centers like the Pike Regional CAC, some of the hurting of these young victims and their families can be dissipated.

Hawkins called the Child Advocacy Center “a cause that means so much to so many.”

“Through the work of the CAC, dark experiences can be overcome,” he said and quoted celebrated poet, Maya Angelou in saying, ‘We will encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.’ We have work before us.”

Scherryl Harrison, CAC board vice president, said the mission of the CAC is to continue the efforts to help abused and neglected children heal and never feel alone.

“We must love them and care for them until they become whole again,” she said.

More than 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States and Harrison said child abuse is not going away.

“We must be parents to all children,” she said. “Many of those we serve at the CAC do overcome what they have been through and become good citizens but there are those who end up in criminal court because they have become offenders themselves.”

However, Harrison said that, where there is love, the love will help hurting children heal.

“Like our motto says, ‘It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.’”

The mayors of the county’s municipalities and other elected officials attended the Pike Regional CAC Proclamation and Open House ceremonies.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage read a proclamation that declared April Child Abuse Awareness Month in Pike County. Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen and Pike County Commissioner Robin Sullivan participated in the proclamation presentation.

Lunsford expressed appreciation to Bill Beck, who came to him with the offer of Calvary Baptist Church as a home for the CAC, which opened in 2006.

He called the CAC a wonderful outreach for the church and a place of healing for abused children and their families.

Kappa Alpha sorority has adopted Prevent Child Abuse America as its philanthropy and Kappa Delta Sorority at Troy University is a strong supporter of the Pike Regional CAC.

The KDs recently sponsored a Shamrock 5K Run as a benefit for the CAC. Members of the sorority attend Open House at the CAC and presented the CAC with a check of more than $13,000 to be used in the center’s prevention awareness programs.