The numbers are shocking. More than 100 children are abused or neglected every day last year in Michigan. For the 40th year in a row, one group is encouraging people to be a light in the darkness.
Travis Barnett is the Executive Director for the Council for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
“Our mission is to strengthen and educate our community to prevent child abuse and neglect so a lot of what we do is educating the community,” Barnett said.
Today community members in Jackson planted pinwheels– a national symbol of child abuse prevention.
“They’re pledging that they’re going to do everything in their power to protect their loved ones from child abuse and neglect,” Barnett said.
For one of the people there today, it’s a bit more personal.
“Growing up in an environment where, maybe less than desirable, I was able to– my brother and I were afforded the blessing to be put into a family with loving parents that made sure that we were provided for,” Michigan State Trooper Travis Fletcher said.
Trooper Fletcher says opportunities to help a child are often overlooked.
“A lot of times it just takes someone being aware of what some of the signs are and just saying something,” he said.
These include not just signs of physical harm but also psychological traits that set a child apart. Even just being someone they can trust can change their life.
“All children need a safe, stable adult in their lives. I doesn’t have to be a parent. It can be a neighbor, or a church member, or a neighbor, or a teacher or a principal. So every single person in the community can reach out to a child and just be a safe stable person in their lives,” Jackson Department of Health and Human Services Director Zoe Lyons said.
She adds that having people to count on can help kids grow up safely as well as help them become adults who don’t abuse and neglect children and that it’s important to also be there for parents. Some suffer from substance abuse and domestic violence relationships and when those parents have the support and resources they need, it can help them take better care of their children.