The event was hosted by HappyNest, Butte County’s Child Abuse Prevention Council and attended by members of Valley Oak Children’s Services, the Department of Employment and Social Services and the Butte County Office of Education. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea and Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey were also present.
Justin Margolis, of Valley Oak Children’s Services and co-chair of HappyNest opened the ceremony by commending those who work in child abuse prevention for their “great commitment to this community and the children in it” and that child abuse prevention is a “community responsibility.”
Margolis also noted that in 2020 there were 377 cases of child “maltreatment” but, no deaths in the county.
Honea told those gathered that there were 131 cases of “willful cruelty” to children in the county in 2020 and 35 so far in 2021.
“These are the hardest calls for our department,” he said.
Honea went on to point out that abused children are “nine times more likely” to grow up and have a criminal record. He commended the many professionals including teachers and those in the medical field who are “mandated reporters” for doing a good job he said everyone in the community can be “”supporters” in the effort to fight child abuse by lending a helping hand to families they see in stress and by reporting abuse.
“If children cannot speak for themselves then, we must speak for them,” said Honea.
Jennifer Allen, assistant director of Butte County Department of Employment and Social Services, and Julie Jarrett, of the Butte County Office of Education and HappyNest co-chair, echoed other speakers’ point that child abuse prevention is a “community effort” and “community responsibility.”
Allen and Honea also stressed that child abuse spans all races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds and status.
“Child abuse is preventable,” said Allen.
The speakers at the ceremony stood at a podium next to a “garden” of bright blue pinwheels, the symbol of child abuse prevention, planted by Jarett who explained to those gathered that the pinwheels symbolize childlike fun and lightheartedness and “happy memories of our childhood” and that similar pinwheel gardens will be planted throughout the county in memory of abused children.