One of the most horrific cases of child abuse was in the courts Monday, April 8. Christian Clark of McKeesport pleaded guilty to killing her 17-month old son, Andre Price III. She sent the boy’s father videos of the abuse and the killing. It highlights the problem of child abuse and the need for prevention.
A ceremony in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday helped visualize how big the problem is, as volunteers planted blue flags up and down Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh — 4,693 flags to be exact. Each one represents a child abused in Pennsylvania in just the past year. Forty more black flags symbolize children killed by abuse.
Angela Liddle, president and CEO of PA Family Support Alliance, says, ” Unfortunately, we have entirely too many flags. And the goal really is awareness-raising, through giving people concrete steps they can take to get involved. And to tell them it’s okay to get involved. We must. You may be the one person who saves a child’s life. Our goal is to reduce the number of flags.”
At the ceremony at One Oxford Center, in which KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen served as the Master of Ceremonies, two children read stories of each of those 40 children killed, while other children removed birthday presents from a giant wooden birthday cake. The emotional event brought some people to tears.
In addition to the sobering statistics and heart-wrenching stories, the event also honored those who help protect children. Dr. Marcy Carrasco received the “Legacy Champion Award” for her career dedicated to protecting children, including founding A Children’s Place. And Kristen Glass was honored for her work at Jeremiah’s Place — a crisis nursery. It’s for parents who need help watching their kids, whether it’s to go on a job interview or they’re just overwhelmed and desperately need a break.
“We do receive phone calls from parents who say, ‘It’s just been me and my child, and I can feel myself getting really stressed out, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. Can you help me? And of course, we say, ‘yes.’ “
One major goal of the ceremony and the flags that represent abused children is to move people to take action if they suspect child abuse. Liddle says, “If you think a child isn’t safe, you don’t have to investigate that. You don’t have to be 100% right. There are paid professionals who are trained to investigate the safety and well-being of kids. What you need to do is call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.