This is how the Bradley County satellite of the 10th Judicial District Children’s Advocacy Center is seeking to raise awareness and promote resources for abused children during Child Abuse Prevention month.
Numerous activities are planned to increase awareness in the community that abuse does happen and there are ways to prevent it, according to Shelby Reed, prevention education specialist.
Already the advocacy center has set up a tree near the County Clerk’s Office in the Bradley County Courthouse. The tree is decorated with blue ribbons and ornaments. Reed said the tree serves as a way of showing children suffering or recovering from abuse they are not alone and there is hope.
“By seeing all the ribbons and seeing the ornaments ... I think that helps to put it into more perspective that it does happen,” Reed said.
Victims of child abuse or people who know someone affected by it are encouraged to tie a ribbon onto the tree or to place an ornament. Blue is the color chosen for child abuse awareness because it is the same color as a bruise.
Instead of a star on the top of the tree, it has an oversized pinwheel. Reed said the pinwheel symbolizes a happy childhood.
Ribbons to wear in support of raising awareness are also available at the CAC office.
At Cleveland State Community College, the child development program will have a booth at the Multicultural Fair on Saturday when people can decorate ornaments and decorate a tree on the campus. Reed said a blue ribbon for each student helped by CAC has been tied to the tree in front of the college library.
Reed said she is encouraging people to tie blue ribbons on their trees.
As soon as Reed heard about the Children’s Advocacy Center she wanted to help. She said the center gives children a voice and a safe outlet for expressing themselves.
As the prevention education specialist, Reed does “Red Light, Green Light” presentations to pre-K through fifth grade on ways to stay safe, end abuse and get help. Reed said she uses puppets in her presentation to help students open up. Reed also does presentations on prevention to other schools and colleges.
Reed has also trained to teach Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children program.
The program teaches adults how to keep children safe from potential abusive situations.
“Our goal is to get enough people out there knowing what to do and who to call, what to look for to where the children are safe and they don’t have to do that on their own,” Reed said. “They should be able to just be kids.”
Suspected child abuse can be confidentially reported through the child abuse hotline by calling 1-877-237-004. The CAC can be contacted at 423-790-5740.