CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS MONTH
April is CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS MONTH, a time for us to recognize families and communities working together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Waycross and surrounding counties are blessed with two organizations that strive to protect our communities’ children and families from the tragedies of child abuse and family violence. They protect the rights of children who cannot stand up for themselves. MAGNOLIA HOUSE (Waycross Area for Abused Persons, Inc.) was represented by our own, Mary Fogle on April 14th. SATILLA ADVOCACY SERVICES was represented by Tess Aldridge and members of the dedicated staff, LaTasha Kirsey, Alisha Alderman, and Robyn Thomas. Both of these vital community treasures have targeted missions, but their combined goals are to protect children and their families from the effects of abuse and neglect.
THE GRIM STATISTICS
Georgia is ranked 38th in the nation for child well-being.
- 27% of children’s parents lack secure employment.
- 38% of children live in single-parent families
- 50% of children ages three and four are not in school, 65% of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 19% of high school students do not graduate on time.
- 9.9% of babies born are considered low birth weight, 7% of children do not have health insurance, and half of the pregnancy-related deaths are in Black women.
- 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18
- 90% of abuse is from someone the victim knows and trusts
- Only 1/3 of child sexual abuse incidents are identified and even fewer are reported
GROWING BETTER TOMORROW FOR ALL CHILDREN, TOGETHER
The Magnolia House supplies services to victims of dome violence who do not know where to turn or have no place to go for help.
The mission of Magnolia House is to empower victims of family violence to become safe and self-sufficient by supplying a safe environment and instilling hope through advocacy, information, partnerships, and services that promote economic and family stability.
To provide these services requires a budget of over $1 million. As a 501c3, grants and donations are available. However, there is never enough to provide all the needs. Magnolia House runs a Thrift Shop and sponsors the highly successful fundraiser “Dancing with the Southern Stars” event each year and a $10,000 raffle. This year Magnolia House is partnering with Satilla Advocacy Services. Tickets for the performance of “Dancing with the Southern Stars” will go on sale in June or July. Last year the tickets were sold out in thirty minutes!
Satilla Advocacy Services’ goal to end child sexual abuse begins with awareness, education, and collaboration to ensure children have safe, stable, and nurturing environments in which they can thrive. The service begins with SART (sexual assault response team) who meet the victim(s) and family in their darkest hours to treat, comfort, and collect evidence in a safe and nonthreatening environment. Enlisting a Multidisciplinary Team approach with schools, law enforcement, social workers, Department of Juvenile Justice, Unison, health department, and other agencies cases are followed to a conclusion that helps the child. Child Sexual Abuse is 95% PREVENTABLE! Awareness and Prevention Education classes are the keys to reaching that goal.
WAYCROSS EXCHANGE CLUB YOUTH OF THE YEAR 2021-2022
Today I am presenting the Waycross Exchange Club Youth of the Year Award. Our club considers it a privilege to offer this award to such deserving students. I want to recognize the Ware County High School counselor Mrs. Jewell Sharpe and thank her for her help in making this program possible.
Throughout the school year, the Waycross Exchange Club has recognized 7 high school seniors who have excelled in academics, athletics, and community service. Each student has already received a plaque and will now be presented with a $100 scholarship.
SEPTEMBER – Claire Ponciano
OCTOBER – Marisa Nino
NOVEMBER – Henry Bates
DECEMBER – Grace Milton
JANUARY – Joseph B. Callahan
FEBRUARY – Reagan Baldree
MARCH – Mary Ryle Davis
Each of these students was considered for the “Youth of the Year” award, which was determined by a grading system where points were awarded based on academics, athletics, leadership, community involvement, and a written essay.
The essay for this year’s competition was titled “The Covid 19 Pandemic drastically changed every aspect of our lives, in every way imaginable. Reflecting on what you learned during this time about yourself, your community, and the world, explain how your perspectives on success, empathy, prioritizing, social inequalities, and leadership has been reshaped.” The student that received the most points was chosen as the Youth of the Year and will now receive a plaque, a $500 scholarship, and will represent the Waycross Exchange Club at the district competition.
On behalf of The Waycross Exchange Club, I would like to announce this year’s “Youth of the Year” recipient: Grace Milton.