At a press conference organized Friday by Advocates for Children, Assistant District Attorney Rosemary Greene helped launch Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month by addressing a crowd of more than 25 at Cartersville's Friendship Plaza.
"This is such a wonderful occasion to allow our community to kick off something that affects each and every one of us here," Greene said. "Last year in Bartow County there were 763 children who were the victims of child abuse. In the state of Georgia that number is even greater. Nationally, there were 423,000 children in 2010 who were victims of child abuse in some form or fashion. It's amazing that in the society that we live in today, where we can ... send information in seconds, that this happens here in our own community.
"I've worked as a prosecutor for Mr. [Joe] Campbell here for about 10 years and have talked and met with many children and many families, and I have seen and heard things that I didn't think were possible in this world ... I am very privileged to be able to give children a voice in the courtroom to be able to try and make it better for their families and hopefully to make sure that those children are safe and that our community is safe."
Working toward that goal, Greene also is a board member for Advocates for Children, a Cartersville nonprofit that serves about 2,500 area youth each year through the Flowering Branch Children's Center and providing services that assist in the awareness, prevention and treatment of child abuse.
"I'm honored to be on the board here with Advocates. They do so many great things in our community. I'm sure most of us [have heard] about the children's shelter, [that is] where children in foster care stay. But there is so much more that Advocates does," Greene said, referring to services, such as Rainbows grief support, Bartow Court Appointed Special Advocates and A Better Way Children's Advocacy Center. "... I would ask [as] each and every one of us leave ... ask yourself, 'What can I do? What can I do so that next year there's not that many pinwheels down that roadway?'
"You can volunteer. Advocates is a great place to start but there are other organizations here in our county. You can also donate your time, [give] financially. You can talk to your community, talk to your church. Talk to the people in your Rotary group, have speakers come, educate them about what to look for [with] child abuse, what to do if you suspect it or if your child comes home and says, 'A friend has disclosed a secret to me.' Child abuse affects everybody, not just the victims. It affects our whole community."
After Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown and Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini signed a proclamation designating the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, Barry Adcock offered closing remarks.
"As the 2011 chair for the board of Advocates, it's really an honor and a privilege to be involved in an organization that stands for what it stands for," Adcock said. "We were talking earlier about all of the things that Advocates does, [like] the shelter. It is a place where children can go that maybe don't have anywhere else. They don't have that hope. But thank God there's people like these volunteers, like [Advocates Executive Director] Patty [Eagar] and everybody else, that are there standing in that gap. And I ask as you drive by -- I'm also the chief financial officer at NorthSide Bank -- but as you drive by the NorthSide Bank locations here in Cartersville and in Adairsville and you see those pinwheels, it's like Rosemary said, let that serve as a reminder that we need more help. We need everybody.
"I look out at crowds like this and I always think just about everybody here I'm sure grew up in a house where love was never a question, where you were taken care of. You were fed and you were never abused in any way. It's so easy to take that for granted and not to think about that just next door to us many times abuse is taking place. And the children that you see at your churches or at the schools, they are being abused. It is heartbreaking to think about that, and the only way that we will ever stop it and eliminate the need for these kind of gatherings is by getting involved, taking a stand and standing there in the gap for those children. So as everyone has said, seek out how you can get involved and how you can make a difference, because each and every one of you can make a difference. You just have to put forth a little bit of effort to do so."
For more information about Advocates for Children, call 770-387-1143 or visit www.advochild.org. The nonprofit currently is preparing for its largest annual fundraiser, the Duck Derby X: A Decade of Ducks. This year, supporters are trying to sell 30,000 artificial ducks, which will race for prizes down the Etowah River May 14 at 2:30 p.m.