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April 2, 2010

The Power Of One

Family & Children’s Place launches month-long campaign asking people to do one tangible thing to help end child abuse

LOUISVILLE — Family & Children’s Place is asking everyone in the community to do one tangible thing this month to help save children’s lives.

“This is an urgent problem that needs the time and attention of not just us, but the entire community,” said Dan Fox, president of Family & Children’s Place, at a press conference at Louisville Slugger Field on Thursday announcing the month-long campaign to encourage action by people. “We believe that each of us has a role to play to do something concrete to prevent abuse.”

With April being National Child Abuse Awareness month, the group is asking everyone to vow to make a difference by filling out a card available online and in various local locations, saying what that person will do to prevent abuse. The group also is promoting that members will come to anyone for free to give training on how to detect and report abuse.

“The first step is education, and once they have that proper education, they can answer that call to action,” said Jaime Thompson, prevention coordinator for the group.

Thompson said it’s a myth that there are visible signs of sexual abuse, adding that many signs — such as the child isolating themselves, becoming more aggressive or having a change in behavior — can go undetected. She said people need to act and report if they suspect anything and let the authorities figure out if there is something going amiss.

“You need to act on your suspicion ... You may be the only voice that spoke out for that child,” she said.

New Albany is home to a Child Advocacy Center, where children can go in a “kid-friendly” environment and tell their story about their abuse once, Thompson said. She said that’s a way to keep children from having to retell their story multiple times to various law-enforcement officials, which can be traumatizing.

She said prevention is key, saying that children need to be told they have the right to turn down an “uncomfortable touch.”

“Talking about sex in a healthy way can let children know what is and isn’t appropriate,” she said.

Area leaders are already taking action, filling out the cards and vowing to do what they can.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, his wife, Madeline, and Jefferson County, Ky., attorney Mike O’Connell made their pledges during the press conference.

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