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Citizens need to shine a spotlight on child abuse and be willing to report suspicious circumstances

Perhaps you have noticed the blue pinwheels around town, the glittering blue and silver decorations that adorn the lawn at the Prineville Police Department and the IronHorse development sign at the corner of Laughlin and Combs Flat Road. Maybe by now you have been offered a blue ribbon to pin to your shirt or jacket or have seen someone else wearing them.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month nationally and the Blue Ribbon Campaign, intended to raise awareness of child abuse is in full force. The campaign's origins can be traced back to a woman who tied a blue ribbon on her car antenna as a tribute to her grandson to symbolize his bruises after dying at the hands of his abusive mother.

Child abuse remains a problem that unfortunately will continue to persist, but that doesn't mean that community members can't give their best effort to slow the problem down as much as possible. And that begins with a willingness to speak up about the problem and shine as bright of a light on it as possible.

Robin Antonson with KIDS Center points out that alarmingly 90 percent of abuse happens in the home or from a trusted family member or friend. For this reason, if people don't speak up about it, the problem continues to happen in secret.

Antonson compared child abuse to workplace harassment, a problem that used to be more rampant before it was thrust into the spotlight. Does it still happen? Of course, but now, thanks to heightened awareness of the problem and changes in workplace laws, people that fall victim to it can report the problem and human resources will deal with it.

In the same way, child abuse experts urge people not to hesitate when they suspect child abuse. People are often reluctant to speak up. They might think it is none of their business. They might worry that they are stirring up problems for a family for no reason. Maybe there is another rational explanation for those bruises or the shell-shocked look in their eyes.

We encourage people especially during this month to take advantage of the public events scheduled for the Crook County and Central Oregon area. Learn everything you can about child abuse, the signs, how to report it, and what resources the community has available.

MountainStar Family Relief Nursery is hosting an open house and holding a training on child sex abuse this month. Darkness to Light trainings are also scheduled to teach adult residents about the signs of sex abuse. You can even take advantage of a free movie this weekend that is intended to provide a safe and positive outing for families.

Sadly, child abuse will never stop completely, but that doesn't mean that this community can't do everything in its power to learn about child abuse, shine a light on the problem and speak up when they suspect abuse is taking place. Take this month, and the months that follow it to "Speak up and Save a Child."

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