Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Do you remember the ad slogan from “Smoky the Bear” from back in the 1960’s – 1970’s?


I was reminded of this ad when I was on-line recently and saw an article about Child Abuse. April is designated as the month to remind us all not only of these insidious problems but that we can report and prevent them.

I wrote about child abuse last year. Since then, there have been many more horrific instances of the “problem” perpetuated by parents, family members, teachers, coaches and what I call sick and perverted individuals.

I am sure that the cases reported in my state sadly are reminiscent of yours – children left in hot cars in the summer, children left alone on winter streets, sexually abused children and teenagers – the list goes on and on. However, the instances of reporting are up and the abusers are being caught and prosecuted. The most notable case concerns the Grandmother and Step-Mother of a girl named Savannah Hardin.

By all accounts, Savannah was a happy, well-liked 9-year old girl Somehow she managed to separate her horrible family life from her school/social life. Her parents were divorced and her father was a contractor for a government agency serving overseas. Savannah lived with her Grand-Mother and Step-Mother. Her Grandmother was described by the Prosecutor as the “Drill Sergeant from Hell.”

Savannah’s “crime” was eating a chocolate candy bar Her punishment, netted out by “Attila the Hun” (my description), was to run around her house for over 3 hours in the hot Georgia sun. Despite the child’s cries, begging to stop,and vomiting, Joyce Garrand Hardin slapped and screamed at Savannah. Her Step-Mother did nothing to stop the punishment. Finally Savannah fell unconscious and neighbors called the police and an ambulance.

After her death, both women were charged and jailed. On March 20, 2015 (almost 3 years after Savannah’s death), the Grandmother was convicted to life imprisonment without parole. The Step-Mother’s trial begins soon.

These and many other instances break my heart. We have a beautiful, healthy, happy Grand-daughter. I cannot fathom how anyone could hurt a child. What brings me hope is that more and more people are speaking up and getting involved. During the month of April and throughout the year, communities all across the nation are encouraged to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities.


Here are a few suggestions from G

Ask stores to put up posters
Ask your town’s officials for their public support.
Ask the Superintendent of Schools to get involved.
Promote the placing of the national symbols of blue pinwheels in your town. Ours are strategically placed in front of our town hall. In the 3 years, that we have been doing it not ONE has been stolen.
Wear blue whenever possible during the month of April but especially on April 11th.
Invite town and state social services to tape a local TV spot or forum.
Ask your Library Director to display books about child abuse.
Be a friend to a parent you know. Ask how their children are. If they seem to be struggling, offer to baby-sit or run errands.
Be a friend to a child you know. Ask about their school/sports activities.
Talk to your neighbors about watching out for one another’s children.
Volunteer your time and money for programs in your community that support children and families.
Finally locate and keep phone numbers to report.
If you need more information, you can email me or contact your state department of social services.




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