By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideApril 1, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -"Every 13 seconds a child is abused in the state of North Carolina," said Maj. Gen. Rodney O. Anderson, Task Force Bragg commander and acting XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commanding general during Fayetteville's annual "Break the Chain of Child Abuse" event Friday at the Crown Convention Center.
"Let's work together to break the chain of child abuse."
Anderson was one of several speakers who took the stage amidst a sea of students from various Fayetteville and Fort Bragg Schools during the event, which brings light to the state and Cumberland County's child abuse cases.
Students from the post's Bowley Elementary and Irwin Intermediate Schools joined to form a chorus, which serenaded the crowd of spectators Friday. The chorus sang two selections, "Arm in Arm" and As We Walk Through the World," during the program, which attracted several hundred students and advocates from various agencies around Cumberland County.
In Anderson's opening remarks, he highlighted the need to end child abuse and ensure that all children receive fair treatment.
"We're here today to remind everyone that April is Child Abuse Prevention month," he said. He challenged everyone in attendance to challenge themselves in asking, "what can I do to break the chain of child abuse'"
"Our children, you children here today, you are our most valuable resource," Anderson said. "We must give you support to strive and grow into healthy, productive and responsible adults and oh, by the way, allow you the freedom to have some fun along the way."
Anderson explained that during the month of April, the community must re-new its commitment to protect the children and respond to child abuse.
"We promote healthy Families and work together to build a brighter future for all Americans," he said. "We support parents in the very tough jobs they have of raising the great children of this nation."
Anderson said every child deserves a nurturing Family and a safe environment that is free from fear, bullying, abuse and neglect. He added that tragically, too many children do not have that secure and loving environment.
"It is the responsibility of all of us - parents, guardians, relatives, neighbors, friends, and yes, even the children to prevent child abuse and neglect and to report it when you see it," he said.
Anderson urged the audience to communicate with parents and friends to break the chain.
"Leave here today and start a conversation. Take a look inside and ask yourself, 'what can I do''" he said. He told them to carry out their duties and, much like members of the Army, live by the Army values, adding that it will help everyone to achieve the goal of ending abuse and neglect.
"Give respect to those in authority," Anderson said. "Children, focus on your education. Think of it as your job. Think of it as your duty and do your best each and every day. You owe that to yourself and to your parents."
A crowd favorite was the Fort Bragg Dance Warehouse puppet show, which depicted a military sergeant, along with a host of friends who explained some of the advantages that military children have. The show also covered how tough deployments are on Army children. The entire puppet show featured many of today's popular dance tunes, one of which prompted beauty queens, Miss Fayetteville, Katie Elizabeth Mills and Miss Fayetteville Outstanding Teen, Elizabeth Adkins, to perform the "Cupid Shuffle."
Mascots from several area high schools were also in attendance, along with McGruff the crime dog and Cookie, mascot for the Swampdogs baseball team.
Doctor Emily Marsh, N.C. Superintendent of Department of Defense Education Activity school also participated in the ceremony, as she, along with Pamela Story, of Social Work Services for Cumberland County Schools read the announcement of participating schools.
Fort Bragg's Ja'Net Farid said the event was important to her because ending child abuse should be a priority for everyone.
"It was important for me to be here because, as a mother, I wouldn't want my children to be abused," she said.
"It's also to spread the word, not just for our children, but for all children. There are kids being abuse everyday and many of us may see it in our own neighborhoods, but we need to speak out to ensure that it stops," said Crystal Boichan, also a Fort Bragg resident.
Sponsors for the ceremony included Fort Bragg Schools, Fort Bragg Family Advocacy Program, Cumberland Co. Guardian Ad Litem Program, Child Advocacy Center, Inc., Cumberland Co. Department of Social Services, Cumberland County Schools, Cumberland County Family Court and Partnership for Children of Cumberland County.