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Ribbons aim to bring child abuse awareness
Junior Auxiliary member Ashley Wright is shown with one of the blue ribbons placed around town to remind local residents April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. - photo by Photo provided

In 2010, there were 547 children referred to the Department of Children’s Services for suspected child abuse in Warren and Van Buren counties.
The Children’s Advocacy Center for the 31st Judicial District conducted 105 forensic interviews. Those numbers are staggering, and it is very troubling that so many children in our own community are victims of abuse.
April is recognized nationwide as Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time to raise awareness about child abuse and to encourage communities to get involved in protecting our most important assets – our children.
There are about 75 million children in the United States. Research suggests 1-in-4 girls and 1-in-7 boys will be abused before turning 18. That means 15 million children will be abused in the next 18 years in our country.
There are an estimated 40 million child abuse survivors in the United States today. Every hour of every day, an allegation of abuse is reported, and it should be recognized that statistics confirm only about 10 percent of sexual abuse cases are ever reported.
Child abuse and/ or child sex abuse is:
• 3.75 times more common than disabilities,
• 19 times more common than mental retardation,
• 30 times more common than autism, and
• 75 times the rate of childhood cancer.
Recent studies are reporting a decline in the occurrence of reported child sexual abuse. Although too soon to speak with any degree of certainty, the data leads us to believe 20 years of coordinated efforts and resources are making a difference in the lives of many children.
The blue bows all around Warren County Courthouse and around the Civic Center were placed there by the Children’s Advocacy Center for the 31st Judicial District of Tennessee to serve as vivid reminders of the pain associated with child abuse. If you know the story behind the blue ribbons, you will be more likely to understand the importance of recognizing child abuse does exist, and you will be more willing to take action if you suspect abuse.
The story of the blue ribbon began in 1989 when Bonnie Finney, a Virginia grandmother, desperately wanted to do something to recognize and help her grandchildren who had been abused by their parents. She tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her van “to make people wonder.” When someone asked about the royal blue ribbon, Bonnie would tell them the tragic story of the abuse suffered by her grandchildren which ultimately led to the brutal death of a grandson.
“My grandchildren had suffered and battled so much throughout their young lives, that it sickened me,” Bonnie said. “My efforts to understand became a plea to stop abusing children, so I tied the blue ribbon to my antenna.”
Why blue? Blue serves as a constant reminder of the bruises and scars carried by the children of abuse.
There is also a field of flags in the lot across from Regions Bank downtown. The McMinnville Evening Exchange Club placed these American flags as a sobering silent tribute to the children of Warren and Van Buren counties who were abused in 2010. Each flag represents four children abused in our judicial district last year.
In Tennessee, the law requires anyone to report suspected child abuse or neglect. If you think a child is being mistreated, take immediate action. Call the Department of Children’s Services 24-hour reporting line at 1-877-237-0004.