Balloon release at Lowndes Courthouse marks April as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month
Published 6:53 pm Monday, April 11, 2016
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
Local officials showed solidarity in the awareness and prevention of child abuse and neglect in Lowndes County Monday as students from Hayneville Middle School released white and blue balloons.
Safe Harbor, the Children’s Advocacy Center in Greenville, which serves Butler, Crenshaw and Lowndes counties held a balloon release at the steps of the Lowndes County Courthouse in recognition of April as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.
The event included comments from Kathy Smyth, executive director of Safe Harbor, District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer, Linda Body service supervisor for the Lowndes County Department of Human Resources (DHR), Lowndes County District Court Judge Adrian D. Johnson and Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams.
Among those in attendance were members of the Lowndes County Commission and Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell.
Also participating were students from Hayneville Middle School who released the blue and white balloons.
Smyth said, “We come together today in solidarity against child maltreatment and abuse.” She said a strong stance is being taken to protect the children, support non-offending parents to investigate, prosecute and sentence those who “violate the bodies and the souls of vulnerable little ones in this community.”
She said in addition to law enforcement and judges, “It’s everyone’s job to protect the children of Lowndes County.”
Tesmer, who serves ad DA for Lowndes, Butler and Crenshaw County, said the center in Greenville known as Safe Harbor services children in all three counties.
She said, “We meet together with law enforcement and DHR, and we staff case.”
She said it is fortunate to have a center where all of that could be done in one place.
Body acknowledge Lowndes County DHR Director Rachel Waters. She said Lowndes DHR is one of the agencies responsible for investigating child abuse and neglect in Lowndes County. She said, it works hand-in-hand with law enforcement and Safe Harbor.
But she said, “We are in need of the help of the citizens of Lowndes County. We need you to report all incidents of suspected abuse… You can make these reports in writing or in person.. It can be anonymous or you can give your name or can even call us.”
She said, “You are our eyes. You are our ears.”
Body said the number to call is 334-548-3800.
Johnson, who serves as district court and juvenile court judge in Lowndes County, said, “The toughest cases we have in the court system are those involving children.”
He stressed the importance of the community reporting incidents of abuse or neglect.
Sheriff Williams encouraged reporting of incidents of abuse to the sheriff’s department in whatever county one lives. He said, “No child should be abused… It’s really, really sad because no child should be like that.”