With an average of nearly two child abuse cases reported every day in Warren and Van Buren counties, prosecutors and civic leaders say there’s hope things can change if people are willing to change the way they view child abuse.
“These flags represent 683 children who in the year of 2015 were reported as victims of child abuse in Warren and Van Buren counties,” said District Attorney Lisa Zavogiannis of the flags that have been displayed on Court Square by McMinnville Evening Exchange for Child Abuse Awareness Month. “Some of you look at that number and think it should be the number for the entire state, but unfortunately 683 is the number of our reported victims.”
Zavogiannis’ revelation came during National Day of Hope sponsored by McMinnville Noon Exchange in partnership with the Children's Advocacy Center for the 31st Judicial District and held at the Chamber of Commerce on Monday afternoon.
Zavogiannis said she uses HOPE to battle the staggering number of child abuse cases:
• H – for the home they provide their victims, which is the Children’s Advocacy Center.
• O -- for organization, which is used to provide the facilities and investigative team.
• P -- for prosecution of child abuse, both physical and sexual.
• E -- for education.
Zavogiannis said she and representatives from her office have been to many schools over the years in an attempt educate students.
“Our message is that it’s OK to tell,” Zavogiannis said. “We encourage them to come forward. Each of us has a legal and moral obligation to speak up for the children in our community."
McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley agreed that child abuse is a community-wide problem.
“It takes a community to raise a child and it also takes a community to end the abuse,” Haley said. “It goes on every day in every walk of life and every class of family across our nation. For many years it was swept under the rug, it was hidden, it was something that happened that was none of our business. It’s all of our business.”