Tift County advocates fight child abuse - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tift County advocates fight child abuse

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April 5, 2006

Tifton-- Millions of children across the United States are abused each year. Some of that abuse even results in death. In Tifton, child advocates are using a unique exhibit to show how prevalent the problem is in their area.

Pinwheels blowing in the wind can surely be a pleasant sight. "Yes, they are pretty," says Tift County Council on Child Abuse President Beth Lewis. But some pretty spinning symbols in front of the Tift County courthouse represent something not so pretty that happens too often to children.

"These represent 577 child abuse cases that we have in Tift County," says Lewis.

Each pinwheel serves as a voice for one child, the voice that sometimes goes unheard in the wind or is unspoken. "I always say it shouldn't hurt to be a child," says Lewis.

Beth Lewis now tries to heal that hurt or prevent it with the Tift County Council on Child Abuse. Her passion for helping abused children began after she saw her first case as a teacher.

"He had been beaten with a coat hanger and I was thinking I am living in a naive world here and these things are going on around me and yet I've been unaware," says Lewis. Efforts to make more people aware seem to make a difference. Programs in Tift County schools like Red Flag, Green Flag help children to report any wrong treatment.

"They're able to talk about bad touches versus good touches," says Lewis. The council isn't finished. Blue ribbons will also bring about awareness and prevention. "We're trying to get these everywhere to let people know that we need everyone's help in preventing child abuse," says Lewis.

Lewis hopes this visual message will spread from Tifton throughout the United States. "I would love to see child abuse completely eradicated especially in the state of Georgia but nationwide also," says

With more effort, fewer wheels could be turning in the wind against the fight for child abuse prevention.

The organization hopes to sell hundreds of blue ribbons for child abuse awareness. To get a ribbon, call Lillie McIntyre at 229-388-1000.   Ribbons are $20.

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