ASHEBORO — Raising awareness of child abuse is one means of prevention. The Child Abuse Prevention Walk in downtown Asheboro on April 14 helped do just that.
Sponsored by the Randolph County Department of Social Services, the event was held in collaboration with Randolph Partnership for Children, Randolph County Emergency Services, Randolph County Public Health, Emmy’s House Children’s Advocacy Center and Randolph County Guardian Ad Litem.
The walk was the brainchild of Jaynetta Butler, Child Protective Services administrator of DSS.
“I believe today was a huge success,” said Butler after the walk. “The goal was to get the word out that child abuse is a preventable, solvable issue. When the community comes together, that’s what makes it happen. It brings prevention full circle.”
Butler said a small-scale Child Abuse Prevention Walk was held last year with just DSS staff. “We wanted to add our community partners to reach more of the community. We are a very strong community, more than willing to jump in and help.”
The walk was planned for Bicentennial Park but a rainy weather forecast led organizers to hold it indoors at the Asheboro Recreation Center on North Street. After the ceremonies were completed and the clouds had opened up, the group decided to walk on downtown sidewalks.
Dozens of walkers, some holding signs in support of children, joined in, marching down North Street to Sunset Avenue, south on Fayetteville Street, west on Academy, north on Church and back down Sunset to North Street and the Rec Center. Many of those involved paused for a photo on the Rec Center steps.
The ceremony opened with the presentation of colors by the Randolph County Honor Guard. Darrell Frye, chair of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners, welcomed attendees, who filled the south bleachers of the gym. The invocation was given by Bill Hatfield of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office. Marcus Lowery of the Asheboro Police Department sang the National Anthem.
Tracie Murphy, DSS director, spoke on the state of child welfare in the county. She was followed by District Attorney Andy Gregson, who gave a report on child welfare and the court. Kim Smith, who came from an abusive family, talked about how foster care and loving individuals helped lead her to a productive life.
Prior to the walk, Butler recognized county partners and the planning committee.
Inside the Rec Center, information tables were set up by those partnering in the event.
In the fiscal year 2022, approximately 1.8 million children received assessment services nationwide, and roughly 58 percent of those victims required post-assessment services, such as family preservation, family support services or foster care.
In Randolph County alone, social workers received and completed assessments on more than 1,350 reports of abuse and neglect in 2022, with roughly 16 percent of those cases needing post-assessment services.
Anyone with concerns about child abuse, neglect and/or dependency can report to the Child Abuse Hotline at 336-683-8200 or by calling 911 outside of normal business hours. For more information on the Child Abuse Prevention Walk contact Randolph County DSS at 336-683-8000, or visit the website.