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Justice center director highlights child abuse awareness campaign

Sun Advocate community editor

Payton Black plays at the Carbon County Family Support and Children's Justice Center in Price while one of the facility's staff members, Kizzy Ellington, spends time with the youngster. The justice center serves numerous purposes in the local community, but one of the major objectives the facility focuses on is working toward educating the citizens about child abuse and neglect. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the center will be having various programs and activities centered on alleviating the related problems.

Other than the playground equipment in the front yard, the house located on the corner of 100 North and 400 East in Price is fairly non-descript.

But the situation changes when Carbon County residents enter the front door.

Inside the house is a playland for children, where the youth can be happy. But for other youngsters, the house also represents a place where they are safe.

The Carbon County Children's Justice Center is a symbol of a place where youth are free from abuse.

The center is a place where ideas on how to fight abuse in the county begin.

Friday is the first day of April, the month when child abuse prevention is highlighted. Each year, people across the country join ranks to raise public awareness about child abuse and neglect.

Beginning on Friday, the center will focus on the mission of bringing awareness about abuse and neglect to the county's population.

"People are not aware of what happens in our county concerning child abuse," said Shelley Wright, the director of Carbon and Emery counties' family support and children's justice centers.

"Last year, we had 207 reported cases of child abuse in Carbon County and 51 in Emery County. People have a lot of misconceptions about it. And it isn't a problem of poverty because it happens at all socio-economic levels in the community," pointed out the director

Wright said the center uses the month of April to draw attention to the problem, despite the fact that people should be aware of the child abuse issue all year long.

The use of programs for public awareness, community education and support programs can reduce the number of cases significantly.

The staff members at the center encourage the community to become involved by:

•Wearing a blue ribbon as a reminder of the seriousness of child abuse and neglect

"Let me be a child" wrist bands may also be obtained through the center.

•Attending events during the month pertaining to preventing abuse and neglect. The center has a calendar of those events available. The first of those will be on April 7 when the center holds an open house from noon until 2 p.m. on April 7 and then a children's activity on April 8 involving Bikers Against Child Abuse.

•They also ask that citizens educate themselves and others about abuse and neglect.

The idea of wearing blue ribbons during the month began in 1989 when a Virgina grandmother began tying a blue ribbon on the antenna of her car "to make people wonder" about the reason for it. When people asked her about it she told them the story of her grandchildren who had suffered abuse. Her efforts on behalf of those children has led to a national campaign involving millions of people.

The local centers will also be holding a fund raiser on April 14 at the Price Elks Lodge. Coming to speak at that event will be Micheal A. Pritchard who presently is the vice president of global security for Hunt Consolidated, but was, for almost 30 years a secret service officer for all the presidents since Jimmy Carter.

For information about any of the activities or the fund raiser contact the center at 637-0281.

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