In April 9 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
Across the country, blue and silver pinwheels are being displayed during Prevent Child Abuse America's Pinwheels for Prevention campaign to bring to light local efforts in preventing child abuse and neglect.
Last Saturday, the Lake Cumberland chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) gathered to place 210 pinwheels in the front lawn of Lake Cumberland Children's Advocacy Center (LCCAC) in Jamestown.
Each pinwheel represents a sexually abused child who was assisted in the Lake Cumberland 10 county region in 2008. Nineteen of those children were from Russell County.
In the Lake Cumberland Region there were 1,912 cases of child abuse investigated in 2008. Of those cases, 168 were investigated in Russell County.
LCCAC is a child focused non-profit organization serving local children and families by conducting investigations, providing treatment and assisting in prosecution of child abuse cases.
"We're seeing an increase in prosecution," said Loretta Coppage, Assistant Director of LCCAC. "We're very happy with that."
The center provides services, free of charge, to families in an effort to protect and support abused children during the intervention process and beyond.
Partnering with LCCAC, the Lake Cumberland BACA chapter volunteers assist in creating a safer environment for abused children by symbolically adopting them into their biker family.
"Each year we meet with therapists who teach us how to interact with abused children," said Tracy "Jersey" Vallie, Vice President of Lake Cumberland's BACA chapter.
Vallie says the group plans outings and parties with the children to surround them with unconditional love and protection.
At the center, each abused child receives a stuffed animal, toy or other volunteer donated gift when they leave.
Black, red and white BACA blankets donated to the Children's Advocacy Center are a favorite choice among teen boys assisted at the center.
BACA members also accompany the children to court to let kids know they are not alone, demonstrate unfaltering support, and help them to be less intimidated and frightened.
Relationships between the bikers and kids continue even after prosecution of their case. Vallie says she still gets late night calls from a child who continues to have nightmares.
The goal of Pinwheels for Prevention is to bring awareness to the problem of child abuse in local communities and prevent abuse from happening.
BACA's pinwheel display on the front lawn of LCCAC is a literal and symbolic reflection of the bright future all children deserve.
Unfortunately, child abuse continues to be a serious problem locally. So far during the 2009 fiscal year, LCCAC has seen 171 sexually abused children, 12 from Russell County.
The center is committed to providing necessary assistance to prosecute abusers and support abused children and their families.
"In the fall, LCCAC plans to begin a non-offending caregiver support group to help families connect with resources to help them move on with their lives," said Coppage. "The free program will be offered to the 10 county Lake Cumberland area."
In addition to Russell County, LCCAC serves Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, McCreary, Pulaski, Taylor, and Wayne counties.
To report suspected child abuse call 1-800-752-6200. For additional information about LCCAC, to make a donation or volunteer call 270-343-6922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about BACA visit www.bacausa.com or call 1-877-98-ABUSE.