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Bladen County: Stop child abuse

By Charlotte Smith

It’s time to stop child abuse. April is Child Abuse Awareness month and many in Bladen County have participated in some way to bring awareness about the issue. 

Bladen County Department of Social Services work all year long with the issue and this Saturday was no different. The Child Abuse Awareness Day hosted by the local Department of Social Services was well attended. The event held was from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the Bladen County Courthouse lawn. 

The event kept those in attendance entertained with a DJ, face painting, pampering sessions, snacks and a bounce house. There were goody bags given out by Second Chance Church. 

DSS employees were busy promoting Child Abuse Awareness. An awareness walk began around noon. DSS staff members, church members, youth, and children volunteers held up awareness signs as they walked from San Jose Restaurant to the courthouse chanting, “Stop Child Abuse!”

A butterfly release was held on the courthouse lawn in honor of the 52 children that died in NC from abuse or neglect. The presentation was held after the walk, according to one of the event organizers with DSS, Jill Sampson. 

Randy Ellis with the Bladen County Ad Litem program was on site recruiting volunteers. 

Ellis said, “We only have seven volunteers in Bladen County. There are around 245 kids from Bladen, Columbus and Brunswick in our program.”

He added, “Only 50% of the children in Bladen and Columbus have a guardian with the program.”

The Guardian Ad Litem Program volunteers work with families in the court system serving as a voice for the children involved with the court cases. Anyone interested in being a volunteer with the program is asked to call Ellis at 910-641-4423. 

Vicky Smith participated in the event and walk. She has served Bladen County for 19 years with the past six years as the DSS Director. She explained what someone should do if child abuse is suspected. Between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday anyone may call 910-862-6800 and ask to speak to someone in child welfare to report abuse. After hours reports may be made by calling 910-862-6960 and asking for the Social Worker on call. 

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