CALDWELL, Idaho —
This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and representatives from the city of Caldwell and Advocates Against Family Violence kicked off a month of activities Tuesday afternoon at Caldwell City Hall.
Community members planted silver and blue pinwheels in front of the city hall. The pinwheels are being used to raise awareness about the issue, Caldwell Mayor Jarom Wagoner said at the event.
“It’s sad that we need to raise awareness for it,” Wagoner said. “We can’t just ignore the problem. We need to be willing and able to step up and stop it. When we see something happening, we need to have the courage to say something.”
Wagoner made a proclamation about child abuse at Monday night’s city council meeting.
Kim Deugan, executive director of Advocates Against Family Violence, which is based in Caldwell, said the organization has worked for 19 years in the area, and the need for services is ongoing.
“We know that 1 in 7 children every day are impacted by child abuse,” Deugan said. “That’s 1 in 7 too many, as far as I’m concerned.”
Deugan said that the pandemic has had an outsized impact on children who are being abused.
“When I look at lives that have been impacted by domestic abuse and sexual assault, child abuse through all of this, to children who were trapped in their homes because they couldn’t get out, couldn’t go to school, and then being abused within that home by people that they knew, relatives … that to me was just so wrong,” Deugan said.
“That should have never happened really in my estimation, but that’s what we’re here for and that’s why we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing … because we’re here to support those children on their journey to freedom,” she said.
The organization’s work to serve children includes providing health care and safe living arrangements, Deugan said.
The organization will be hosting additional events this month to raise awareness about child abuse, including additional pinwheel plantings at the Caldwell Police Department at 10 a.m. Wednesday and at AAFV’s administration building Thursday at 10 a.m., said Heidi Reece, development director for the organization, via email.
The organization will also be hosting an event on April 14 where the community can decorate a clothing item to create “messages of awareness, hope, and healing for young people who have experienced abuse,” according to the organization’s Facebook page. The event is called the Clothesline Project because those clothing items will be displayed on a clothesline. Supplies and food will be provided to participants, the event said.
At the monthly Canyon County Board of Commissioner’s community input meeting on Monday, Deugan spoke about her organization’s efforts, and welcomed the community to support the organization through volunteer work. Volunteers that work with the individuals served through the organization must complete an extensive training program, Deugan said.
If a community member wants to support the work of the organization apart from working directly with the individuals being served, they can advocate for the organization’s work, fund raise, and hold supplies drives, Deugan said at the meeting.
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