Child Abuse Prevention Month has been observed each April since its first presidential proclamation in 1983. In 1989, a grandmother from Virginia, Bonnie Finney, began the Blue Ribbon Campaign when she tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her van “to make people wonder.”
The story this grandmother told was a tragic story about the abuse of her grandchildren, which ultimately led to the brutal death of her grandson.
This is Bonnie’s story:
Of course, I knew something was wrong as I sat at the side of my grandson at the hospital, I saw fear on his face, the bruises on his body, and the healing cigarette burns on his hands. His doctor did not believe my daughter’s story…. that he fell in slippery water in the bathtub.
After the ordeal at the hospital my grandson was placed into foster care for three weeks. He cried when they came to take him back to his mother. . .I ached for this dilemma, but I was not physically able to care for him.
I never saw him again. We learned he had been killed, wrapped in a sheet, stuffed in a tool box and dumped into the dismal swamp three months earlier.” “My grandchildren had suffered and battled so much throughout their young lives that it sickened me. My life was turned into physical and mental chaos. My efforts to understand became a plea to stop abusing children. I tied a blue ribbon on my van antenna to make people wonder. Why blue? I intend never to forget the battered, bruised bodies of my grandchildren. Blue serves as a constant reminder to me to fight for protection for our children.
This year with the State of Illinois Stay at Home mandate, everyone can still wear blue. Posting pictures of us dressed in blue will cause others to ask why? Our message that Every Child Deserves a Great Childhood will hopefully go viral.
In Macoupin County on Friday, April 3, Macoupin County Healthy Families participants joined in from their homes to show their blue.
Research shows that most Americans are already involved in helping to prevent child abuse and neglect. Did you know that when you mentor a child or parent, advocate for policies that support the next generation, or donate time or money to local child-serving organizations, you are actually helping to prevent child abuse and neglect? These actions do make a difference.
Most of us have use of some technology. We can reach out to families through video chat, as it is the next best thing to being together in person. Some creative ideas is to host a digital dinner where everyone joins online from their respective homes and eats together with family discussions. If video chat is not available, call, text or email. Send positive messages.
You can encourage members of our social groups including faith groups, fraternal organizations and volunteer groups to reach out through technology to those who are socially isolated. These groups can encourage kids to create artwork and messages and share through texting, Facebook, email, etc.
The staff at the Macoupin County Public Health Department urge you to learn how you can make a difference in the life of a child. Check out Prevent Child Abuse Illinois online or contact the Macoupin County Public Health Department at 217-854-3223, ext. 8.