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April 6, 2018

Orange County’s Response to National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Mike Ryan, Director of County of Orange Social Services Agency, delivers opening remarks and ceremonial flag at the Child Abuse Prevention Month Kick-Off Ceremony.

What are you going to do next to…Step Up. Stand Up. Speak Up for Kids?

This was the question asked by CBS2/KCAL9 News Reporter Michele Gile as she emceed Orange County’s 24th Annual Blue Ribbon Ceremony on March 28, 2018, to kick off National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month that occurs each April. The event held at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana drew more than 100 community leaders including civic leaders, service group leaders, educators, parents, law enforcement, nonprofits, and the business community.

Honored for their advocacy for children were Honorable Judge Maria Hernandez of the County of Orange Superior Court, Carlos Carney of the Exchange Club of Irvine, and Joanna Hussey with the County of Orange Social Services Agency. The ceremony included a poignant tribute to remember eight local children who died from abuse in 2017, remarks from several community leaders and a parent mentor, a performance by MONTAGE from Orange County School of the Arts, and the planting of one of the more than 55 Pinwheels for Prevention Garden that will be popping up throughout the county this month. Gile concluded her formal remarks by sharing a list compiled by The Raise Foundation of ways people can advocate for the safety of children (see “Call to Action” below).

According to the County of Orange Social Services Agency, in 2017, the number of calls to the County of Orange Social Services Agency Child Abuse Registry was 48,175, which generated 30,785 family referrals totaling 50,674 children.

“Child abuse and neglect occurs in every city in Orange County,” explained Eldon Baber, executive director of The Raise Foundation. He reminded everyone of the critical need to join together as a community in unity to prevent child abuse because, as he emphasized, being a child should not hurt.

To share what childhood should be like, 90 children participated in the Blue Ribbon Youth Art Contest with entries that depicted the theme: Keep Me Safe, Healthy, and Happy. The winning entries were unveiled at a Blue Ribbon Family Fun Day at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine and all youth who entered were recognized. Congratulations to 1st Place Winners Maykenzie K., 9;  Samantha K., 13; Emily T., 11; and Xiomara A., 15. Their artwork and many of the other entries will now be part of the Blue Ribbon roaming art exhibit to be featured at such places as Orange County Public Library Garden Grove branch and Eagle Community Credit Union.

Youth Art Contest Winners:

Maykenzie K., 9 – Elementary School 1st Place

Samantha K., 13 – Middle School 1st Place Tie

Xiomara A., 15 – High School 1st Place

Emily T., 11 – Middle School 1st Place Tie

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