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Local and regional government officials, civic organizations and volunteer groups are joining the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of South Texas in reminding the public that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The Blue Ribbon Child Abuse Prevention Campaign had its early beginnings following the death of a young child as a victim of severe physical abuse. In spring 1989, Bonnie Finney, a Virginia grandmother, received the devastating news that her beloved grandson had died of injuries inflicted by his parents.
In an expression of her grief and outrage, she did something that became a symbol around which groups rally for the cause of child abuse prevention. She tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her van as a way to remember “the bruised and battered body” of her grandson.
The ribbon was also intended to alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse.
“The blue ribbon serves as a constant reminder to fight for protection of our children,” Finney said. “Please wear a blue ribbon. Put one on your car. Give one to your friends. Tell them what it means. You may save a child’s life.”
The idea of wearing or displaying a blue ribbon to show support for child abuse prevention was picked up by grassroots organizations across the country. The act of one grandmother thousands of miles away led to this month’s commemoration, child advocates say.
“Just think what could happen if each one of us helped to spread the word to a few of the people that we come in contact with each day,” CASA of South Texas Executive Director Joni Ebbs Garcia said. “The groundswell of support that would follow just might be enough to move us towards the day when our homes and communities are completely safe for children.”
The advocacy group speaks up for children who have been removed from abusive or neglectful homes and are in transition through foster care to new adoptive homes. CASA of South Texas presently handles a number of cases in Frio, La Salle and neighboring counties. Volunteer advocates are trained in assessing the children’s needs and concerns, and then addressing those as well as long-term goals when in front of a judge in court. The organization continues putting out a call for volunteers and donations, and can be reached at (830) 569-4696.