(Photo: Elkhart County Juvenile Court Magistrate Deborah Domine speaks as CAPS President/CEO Candy Yoder looks on Wednesday, March 30, at CAPS. Yoder and Domine spoke to a crowd who had come to help plant pinwheels, the symbol of a happy and healthy childhood, for National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Photo by Darrel Yoder)
An open letter to the people of Elkhart County
Together, we are all the key to a future free of child abuse. Without you, many children will not experience the healthy, happy childhood they deserve.
Every year, there are more than 5,000 reports of abuse or neglect in Elkhart County alone. Where does all this suffering come from? It comes from ignorance, fear, anger and frustration. It comes from people not understanding how to relate to children, from people not asking for help before they’re overwhelmed, and from people not knowing how to help when they see others – friends, family members, neighbors – in need.
It takes a community of engaged citizens to protect children. You have a role. Even if you don’t have children or if you don’t work in a profession that deals directly with children, you are in a position to help form a protective network for children and families in your life. You can help by sharing knowledge about community resources with parents, babysit for family and friends, volunteer as a mentor for a child through a local organization, or simply INTENTIONALLY look a child in the eye and LISTEN to what they have to say. These are just a few ways you can help. There are countless other opportunities that allow us all to make a difference.
Our challenge for you this April – National Child Abuse Prevention Month – is to find one way YOU, (your family, your company, your agency) can provide children with a safe, supportive and nurturing environment. Make a Plan. Work the Plan. Share with us! Write a letter to your newspaper’s editor; fill the opinion pages with positive ideas for helping children. Share your ideas on social media with #RallyForChildren. Engage with us on CAPS Facebook (facebook.com/CAPSElkhart) and Twitter (twitter.com/CAPSElkhart) during April as we call attention to the ideas your neighbors and community partners are sharing.
Finally, at noon on April 29, please join us on Civic Plaza in Elkhart at the Rally For Children so we can celebrate the multitude of ways you make a positive difference for children. Wear blue, the color of child abuse prevention. Bring a posterboard or a sign to represent your solutions. Bring awareness to this incredibly important issue.
Will you accept the challenge? Join us in this movement in Elkhart County. Take action, because YOU are the key to a future free of child abuse.
Elkhart County Juvenile Court Magistrate