ECRCAC challenging residents, businesses to wear blue

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, April 6, 2022

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When you see blue ribbons and other blue decorations throughout the area this month, take it as a reminder of the children who suffer from a variety of abuses in our area.

Stephanie Myrick, director and forensic interview for the Kathy Hill Child Advocacy Center, also referred to as Escambia County Regional Child Advocacy Center, said her office is doing their part in promoting Child Abuse Prevention.

By issuing a challenge for area citizens and businesses to wear blue on Friday, CAC staff hopes to raise awareness for the month of recognition.

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In the challenge issued on Facebook last week,

“Let’s come together as a community and paint the town blue. Let’s come together as a community and speak out against the abuse these sweet babies endure/ed. Most importantly, let’s come together as a community to advocate and educate those who may not know the signs of physical and sexual abuse.”

During 2021, Myrick said her office has conducted 66 interviews in cases in the region.

“That doesn’t mean there were only 66 cases,” Myrick said. “Not all abuse reports come to our office for interviews.”

Myrick said the number of reported abuse cases is the main reason behind visits to area schools.

“We will be visiting third grade students in the city and county schools during this month,” Myrick said. “We will be there to educate and promote child abuse prevention. We do a short presentation on how children can recognize what’s safe and what isn’t.”

Myrick said the number of cases reported increased significantly after a COVID lock-down that began in 2020.

“When children didn’t go to school from March to August, many of them were at home and with those who were doing the abuse,” Myrick said. “Once school was back in session, many students were able to confide in their teachers and counselors about some of the problems they experienced at home.”

Myrick said during their visits to area schools, they will encourage children to report any abuse to the teachers and counselors that they spend most of their days with.

“We know that the counselors and teachers are there for those children,” Myrick said. “We want to make sure that those children know they can trust in and confide in those they spend so much time with during the week at school.”

The significance of the use of blue for this special month of recognition comes from a grandmother from Virginia who lost her grandson to child abuse and neglect, Myrick said.

“In remembrance of her late grandson, she tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her car,” Myrick explained. “That one small ribbon spiraled into millions of people wearing blue to spread the word about preventing child abuse. Think of wearing blue as that ribbon, one small act that could lead to many positive outcomes.”

The Escambia County Regional Child Advocacy Center offers services in Escambia, Conecuh and Monroe Counties working closely with the Department of Human Resources with referrals.