The Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement hosted the ceremony at City Hall with the Alabama and Talladega County Department of Human Resources and the city of Sylacauga on hand to show their support.
Mayor Sam Wright declared April Child Abuse Prevention Month and called upon “all citizens and community agencies, faith-based groups, medical facilities and businesses to increase their participation in this effect.”
Wright noted the importance of organizations like SAFE and DHR in protecting children.
“I never knew much about DHR until I got involved in something, and I saw right fast how important DHR is,” Wright said. “SAFE is one of those things people will mention to me about our city. I watch them with children, and in everything they do, it just gives me a great deal of pleasure to know that we have this organization in Sylacauga. We thank people like you who are willing to reach out and make a difference in our community.”
Wright read a proclamation that stated child abuse directly harms children and also increases the likelihood of criminal behavior, substance abuse, health problems such as heart disease and obesity and risky behaviors like smoking.
There were 434 child abuse reports in the county last year, of which 264 showed credible evidence of abuse.
DHR Director Nicole Parker said protecting these children is a community effort.
“Although we process the reports, it takes all of you to bring these children to our attention,” Parker said. “Without the assistance of places like SAFE, the schools, neighbors, doctors, teachers, police and church members, many of these children would continue to suffer alone.”
Parker said anyone suspecting child abuse or neglect should report it.
“In order to protect children in our community, we all have to do our part,” Parker said. “Make the report, become a foster or adoptive parent and make children a priority in your life.”
SAFE director Margaret Morton challenged citizens to keep children at the forefront of the community.
“I am reminded of the story of a community whose greeting is not ‘How are you?’ but always ‘How are the children?’” Morton said. “And the answer is ‘The children are well.’ The question is, how are the children in Alabama? Are they well? Are we going to put forth our resources to make sure they are taken care of? My challenge for you is, what will you do today, tomorrow, this year to ensure our children are well?”
Contact DHR at 256-761-6600 or after hours at the Sheriff’s Office at 256-761-6117. Contact SAFE at 256-245-4343.
Contact Emily Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.