CHAMPAIGN — The "Blue Kids" have made their annual reappearance in Champaign County starting Friday and they've got a big message to deliver.
For each one of the approximately 30-35 wooden kid-shaped cut-outs that will be placed in public areas around Champaign-Urbana and other local communities, there are more than 50 annual cases of child abuse or neglect reported in the county, according to Mike Williams, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center.
The Blue Kids campaign, sponsored by the Children's Advocacy Center, serves as a two-pronged reminder, Williams says:
— Children are being abused and neglected.
— When abuse or neglect is suspected it should be reported so it can be investigated.
More than 200 children were interviewed at the Champaign County Children's Advocacy Center alone last year, and there are about 1,800 cases of abuse and neglect reported in the county a year, Williams said.
Anyone who suspects abuse or neglect should report it to local law enforcement or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, he urged.
Better to report suspected abuse or neglect and be wrong, than to remain silent and be right and allow the abuse to continue, Williams said.
You don't need to be able to prove abuse or neglect to report it, he said.
"I think a lot of people think they need to be able to prove it before they need to make that report," he said.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and some other events planned to raise awareness in Champaign County include:
— Champaign County CASA will display more than 350 blue pinwheels in front of the Champaign County Courthouse, with each pinwheel representing one child in the Champaign County court system as a result of child abuse or neglect.
— Champaign County CASA is asking local businesses to be its partner for "Go Casual for CASA" and allow employees to dress casually April 5 in exchange for a $5 donation. For information: http://www.facebook.com/champaigncountyCASA
— Crisis Nursery invites the community to be part of its third annual "Wrap the Nursery" event at noon April 10 to support the nursery as an "island of safety" for children in the community.
Participants planning to wrap around the nursery are asked to wear something blue. Lunch will be provided, according to Crisis Nursery development and marketing director Kristen Bosch.
More Crisis Nursery events planned for the month. See the calendar at: http://www.crisisnursery.net
DCFS Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873).