By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater Mayor John Bartley will proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in a ceremony to be held outside the Payne County Courthouse Tuesday.
The event, which begins at 11:30 a.m., will feature trees being adorned with blue ribbons and a display of 157 pinwheels — one for each confirmed case of child abuse in 2012.
According to a press release, Oklahoma State University students will also participate by decorating Theta Pond in blue ribbons. Many businesses also will take part by decorating their storefronts.
Saville Center Executive Director Brandi White said the focus is on making residents aware of the issue and what they can do to help.
“Obviously, tying a blue ribbon around a tree won’t stop child abuse, but our hope is that maybe it will bring the issue to the forefront of the community’s mind,” White said.
White said the issue is critical for the city. The Saville Center serves Payne and Logan counties. White said 740 reports of child abuse were made last year. The organization serves 258 children. Nationally, one case of child abuse is reported every 10 seconds and 1 in 5 children will be abused by their 18th birthday, she said.
“We know that child abuse costs any community,” she said.
Those costs can be financial and emotional with health issues, drug addiction and employment issues. White said it behooves the community to intervene at the earliest point possible to prevent these long-term effects.
Saville Center’s Victim and Family Advocate Sarah Ragland said the organization has a child abuse prevention task force.
“We try to think of new prevention ways every year to reach the community on different levels,” she said.
Ragland said every Oklahoman is a mandated reporter if they suspect child abuse. They may call 1-800-522-3511 to report.
White said there is a misconception on who the victims of child abuse could potentially be.
“I think a lot of people think of child abuse as not happening in their community or to their friends and family,” she said. “It happens across the socioeconomic spectrum.”
And child abuse can take many forms including threats, sexual abuse and emotional harm.
For more information, visit www.preventchildabuse.org or contact The Saville Center at 405-377-5670.