Butterfly release punctuates DSS effort toward awareness of child abuse | #childabuse | #children | #kids

Social Worker Program Manager Jill Sampson holds a released butterfly to the crowd.

ELIZABETHTOWN — Friday’s release of butterflies at the Department of Social Services signaled a call to help prevent child abuse.

The Bladen County DSS has led local efforts throughout Child Abuse Awareness Month, including the encouragement of blue bulbs on porches and pinwheel gardens throughout the community.

According to Jill Sampson, the a social worker program manager, DSS can work anywhere between 150 to 300 cases a year involving children.

Several members of DSS took the time to state the age ranges and causes of death for cases in the last year, leaving out the actual names of the children who died. She believes that it is a very heartfelt part of the event because some people are shocked by how old children are when they die and the ways they die.

Upon release of the butterflies, several of them fell to the ground and waited there until they had the strength to fly away. Sampson explained that the butterflies were dormant and just need some time to wake up to fly away.

Sampson said that the planning for the event usually occurs the fall before or even the summer on some occasions. She added that they have been doing an event for child abuse awareness for around 12 years now, four with the butterflies. They used to do a balloon release but made the switch to be more environmentally conscious.

“The COVID pandemic scaled us back this year,” Sampson said. “The importance of this event is to show awareness. There is abuse and neglect that is happening in our community. We’re here to assist those children and help them getting into the services they need. It’s important to remember those who could not be reached or were reached too late.”

Sampson described the solemness of the event when remembering those who died, and also the whimsical nature of having a courthouse lawn filled with children and events. The courthouse activities and a march from San Jose Restaurant to there were not held this year because of the pandemic.

“It’s really for a celebration for them but in remembrance of those that were lost,” Sampson said. “We have a lot of support in our community.”

Sampson explained that there hasn’t been a decline in cases even though students have been out of the schools where reports are usually filled. Sampson said she believes the amount of cases will increase once school starts back up again. She did add that there has been an increase in incidents that involve domestic violence and substance abuse and children who need placement.

If anyone has concerns with a case involving a child, call 910-862-6800 and ask for the Social Work Intake Unit. Everyone in the state is considered mandated reporters, so if anyone sees something, they should say something.

Brendaly Vega Davis can be reached at 910-247-9132 or bdavis@bladenjournal.com.

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