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Vigil brings attention to the 142 abused or neglected children in the county

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

(Photo)
Members of the DePauw Gospel Choir sang during the Cherish the Children Candlelight Vigil Tuesday night.
Activities surrounding the annual Putnam County Prevent Child Abuse campaign culminated Tuesday evening with a Cherish the Children Candlelight Vigil at Gobin United Methodist Church in Greencastle.

The Candlelight Vigil is sponsored by the Putnam County Family Support Services, Putnam County Department of Child Services, Putnam County Youth Development Commission, Mental Health America of Putnam County, Community Partners for Child Safety and Putnam County Head Start.

People gathered in the church Tuesday evening in remembrance of the 142 children who were abused or neglected in Putnam County last year. Members of the DePauw Gospel Choir sang the lyrics, "Flowing from my eyes are the issues of my heart" as participants waited for the start of the program.

(Photo)
Community members lit candles for 142 abused or neglected children in Putnam County last year. The Cherish the Children Candlelight Vigil took place at Gobin United Methodist Church Tuesday night.
"Stop the pain before it begins," said Linda Merkel, Executive Director Youth Development Commission. "People can change. Abuse can change," she told the audience in her opening remarks.

Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray talked about her 25 years as a Social Worker. "Before I moved to One North Locust Street, I was a social worker. One of the most joyous things I saw was the birth of babies. The first 24 hours are wondrous but then the baby goes home and something happens," she said.

"Child abuse doesn't have anything to do with economics, race or religion. It does have to do with a parent's disappointment. Maybe they wanted a boy after three girls and didn't get one. It can be that there is no support or little parenting skill. Maybe it's drugs or alcohol. Sometimes it's mental illness," stated Murray.

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This year's recipient of the 2007 Bessie Rector Award is Lisa Bishop from Cummins Behavioral Health Systems Wrap Around Services. She was presented with a plaque during the Cherish the Children Candlelight Vigil Tuesday evening at Gobin United Methodist Church.
"What's important is that there is help. There are all these dedicated volunteers and workers. Help is available in schools and churches, with law enforcement and the government and with agencies like these here tonight.

"Last year 142 children were abused or neglected in the county. That's less than last year but not it's not down enough," added Murray.

"I want to thank all these dedicated volunteers. They are really trying to make a difference," she finished.

In light of thanking volunteers Cari Cox, executive director of Family Support Services, presented the 2007 Bessie Rector Award.

Each year, the PCFSS Board of Directors accepts nominations from the community for the award. Rector was a founder of the organization.

Cox said the award is given to a community member who has made continuing contributions to prevent child abuse and neglect.

This year's recipient was Lisa Bishop from Cummins Behavioral Health Systems Wrap Around Services, who thanked Cox for the award.

"I moved back to Greencastle to help kids," said Bishop. "I'm proud to be a member of this community,"

Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley then spoke to the crowd in the church about what that 142 number means.

"It's substantial," said Headley. "It's less than one percent of the county's population. We can go lower."

Headley talked about a famous speech that Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn has with himself in the book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck is arguing with himself about turning in the slave Jim who has saved Huck's life and been his friend. He tells himself, "I'm going to Hell, if I don't turn him in."

Huck, Headley says is wrestling with the issue of slavery. Eventually Huck decides to follow what he knows is right even if he is going to hell over it.

"People don't want to deal with abuse or report it," Headley told the room full of people. "You have to tell people it's not acceptable. If you see it (abuse) in the mall or the parking lot of Wal-Mart, you go tell people its' not acceptable," said Headley.

"If we can't stand up for these children, who will?" he asked.

"In the prevention of child abuse we have to educate, innovate and participate," he said.

Next the attendees lined the aisle to light a candle for each child.

As those in attendance lined up in quiet rows to wait their turn, Allison Edberg and Kirsten Lumsdon played the violin and cello as candle after candle was lit.

At the end of the event the church bell tolled out 92 times. Once for each county in Indiana. In the quiet of the church, people could hear the bell ringer slowly count, "ten, eleven, twelve," and on up to 92." Then in silence the crowd walked out of the sanctuary.


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This event was a nice thing to do in remembrance of the 142 victims of child abuse/child neglect in Putnam County. However when Headley states, abuse is not acceptable. "If we can't stand up for these children who will?" I find him to be a hypocrite. I can tell you there has been abuse reported and you hit a brick wall as soon as someone on the other end of the phone answers. Do you know what it's like begging people for help, from child protection agencies, even Casa, Mental Health, Family Health Services, and even the court systems, police and sheriff's dept. Everyone said the same thing. There's nothing we can do. If it's not this we can't help you. If it's not that, we can't help you. The bruises are not in the right place, they will have to be located here on the body before we count it as child abuse. I suppose if it happened to the people who work in this agencies, they could do something about it. Because for the rest of us, it is depressing when you can't get anything done. So I find it ironic that there are that many cases here in Putnam County. Maybe if something was done when the call came in........ Out of those 142, was anything done to help the abuse victim?

-- Posted by cty-govt-a-muck on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 8:41 AM

Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley then spoke to the crowd in the church about what that 142 number means.

"It's substantial," said Headley. "It's less than one percent of the county's population. We can go lower."

Okay. It's less than one percent of the county's population. That sounds good but what percentage is it of the children in Putnam county? Of the total number of children in the county, how many are abused and neglected?

cty-govt-a-muck -- I'm sure there are guidelines that the agencies have to follow. And if they do not follow the guidelines they will find themselves in the middle of a lawsuit.

-- Posted by cloverlady on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 10:08 AM

Cloverlady,I know and understand they have guidelines, but abuse IS still abuse. I have raised my children and am seeing my grandchildren raised. I DO KNOW as a parent what child abuse is. I do not need guidelines to tell me what is and what isn't. When you're told, if a bruise or mark is on the leg or arm, or head, it does not constitute abuse. Only in the mid-section. I have a real problem with those guidelines. If they don't do something about abuse, they could still find themselves in the middle of a lawsuit. I'd rather 'ere on the side of caution, then let a child be turned away and continued to be abused.! Until someone is told sorry lady, there's nothing we can do. Call this person, you do, call this person, you do, call this person, you do. Get my drift. When child protective services collects their paychecks, I hope they can cash them without even thinking twice. Because some of us are left feeling depressed, drained and like there is no one is this county who will help someone. Then I see this in the paper.

-- Posted by cty-govt-a-muck on Wed, Apr 23, 2008, at 12:39 PM

CONGRATULATINS TO LISA BISHOP FOR BEING THE BESSIE RECTOR RECIPIENT. SHE IS A WARM AND CARING PERSON AND DOES A GREAT JOB.

-- Posted by Michele1953 on Thu, Apr 24, 2008, at 5:54 PM


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