The Office of the State’s Attorney for St. Mary’s County partnered with several organizations to raise awareness for National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month in April. Throughout the month, the State’s Attorney’s Office, along with members of the St. Mary’s County Child Advocacy Center Multi-Disciplinary Team, organized a series of events aimed at fostering safe childhoods for children.
The first event, “Pinwheels for Prevention,” was held in early April. Whimsical displays of pinwheels were placed in prominent locations such as Circuit Court and District Court to remind the community of the importance of child abuse prevention. Pinwheels were designated as the national symbol of child abuse prevention in 2008.
On Tuesday, April 18, 2023, Senior Assistant State’s Attorneys Sarah Proctor and Ashley Sowls joined community partners to accept a Proclamation from the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County. The Proclamation highlighted the partnerships between child welfare professionals, education, health, community, and faith-based organizations, law enforcement agencies, the State’s Attorney’s Office, and families. The Proclamation read, in part, “…effective child abuse prevention succeeds because of the partnerships created…”.
As the culmination of the month-long campaign, a short awareness ceremony and kickball game will be held on Sunday, April 23, 2023, at Chancellor’s Run Regional Park at 1 p.m. Community members are invited to attend. The ceremony will feature remarks from State’s Attorney Jaymi Sterling, highlighting the work being done in the county to end the scourge of child abuse in the community. The game will feature players from several organizations, including the Office of the State’s Attorney, the Department of Social Services, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland State Police, MedStar St. Mary’s, and Serenity Place, LLC.
The kickball game is an interactive way for participating agencies to engage with the community and have meaningful conversations to effect change for the prevention of child abuse. State’s Attorney Sterling said, “We hope the community will come out to cheer us on, but more than that, we hope the community will join us to end child abuse forever.”
Child abuse is a serious problem in the United States, and efforts to prevent it are critical. According to the National Children’s Alliance, in 2020, there were over 1,200 reported cases of child abuse in Maryland alone. The St. Mary’s County Child Advocacy Center provides a coordinated response to child abuse cases in the county, bringing together professionals from various fields to support and protect children.
The Child Advocacy Center is just one of the many partners involved in the month-long awareness campaign. Effective child abuse prevention requires collaboration between various organizations, and the events throughout April aimed to bring attention to the issue and encourage community involvement in preventing child abuse.
The community is encouraged to continue supporting efforts to prevent child abuse beyond the month of April. By staying informed, reporting suspected abuse, and supporting organizations dedicated to preventing child abuse, community members can help make a difference in the lives of children.