Like many other Hoosier communities, Versailles will be the site of a National Child Abuse Prevention Month ceremony Tuesday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. on the courthouse square, 115 N. Main St., reports Michelle Russell, Indiana Department of Child Services Ripley County director.
“This is about unity and solidarity in our communities to make children a priority,” she notes. “By the time children come into the DCS system, they’re already victims of abuse or neglect,” Russell points out. “We need all eyes and ears in the community reporting child abuse and neglect, but, equally important, we need everyone – from families and extended families to neighbors and friends – working together to prevent child abuse.”
Ripley County Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse members also will participate in the event. Council Chair Frank Goodpaster says, “Prevention, to me, means supporting families. No parent or family should go it alone. It’s a hard job, a stressful job. We need to reach out to protect kids by supporting the parents. If we can’t help, we need to tell someone who can.”
Music, candlelight and a pinwheels for prevention garden in support of county children being served by DCS also are part of the ceremony.
About half of Indiana’s 92 counties have child abuse prevention councils, but Franklin County does not.
Sandy Copeland, Ripley County Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse part-time coordinator, urges citizens to wear blue every Monday in April. With the blue representing a bruise, it’s supposed to “remind area residents to prevent child abuse.” Her aim is to “make it a color in the crayon box instead of on the kids.”
All churches are invited to participate in Blue Sunday April 27. “We are asking that individuals take time to pray for the children in Indiana who have died from abuse or neglect, children who have been abused or neglected, parents and caregivers who are doing their best to protect and love their children and pray for the professionals who help children and families every day.”