Moms Making a Difference Against Child Abuse
The topic of child abuse never gets easier. The countless stories of children being hurt break our hearts but we cannot turn away, we must take action. Today we share with you three stories of moms who are standing up, raising their voices and making a difference for our children.
After Her Two-Year-Old was Murdered, this Mom is Fighting to End Child Abuse
Lauren Furneaux is a mother who has experienced one of this life’s most horrific tragedies. Five years ago, her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Lily, was sexually tortured and killed by her step-mother. According to an article on Babble, “Lauren is adamant that despite how hard it can be for us to face the reality of child abuse, raising awareness is the only way to work for its demise.”
Lauren shared, “I didn’t realize how prevalent child abuse was until it happened to my family. We all look at these statistics and they shock us. We brush them off by saying, ‘it won’t happen to me.’ But I am here to tell you it can happen to anyone. When people start realizing that it isn’t just something you see on Law & Order: SVU or movies or in the news, they will start to speak up and that’s what everyone needs to do.”
Lauren has started the Justice for Lily foundation to help coordinate volunteers and raise funds to help families and spread awareness about child abuse. The organization has held several events and has been featured in the press – all with the goal of helping people understand the signs of child abuse and to get children help before it is too late.
Lauren told Babble, “Once we start realizing that our kids are our future and the way we raise them is the way that the world will be one day, maybe we can start to make this world a better place where one day there is no longer child abuse. So please — make a choice to be their voice because there is no excuse for child abuse.”
Lauren also shared important resources to help stop child abuse:
- Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (the national child abuse hotline) or the state police if you suspect abuse.
- Reassure children who speak out they did the right thing by telling you, because most of the time they are going against a loved one and many feel they are betraying their family.
- If you are a parent going through this, fight and keep fighting.
- Go to local child advocacy centers or a Child Help branch.
- Take them to a doctor to get them examined with medical documentation for bruises, cuts, burns, etc.
- Watch for warning signs that include bruises in abnormal places, places that if a child falls wouldn’t normally be bruised, changes in behavior or sleep patterns, frequent accidents in a potty-trained child, sexually explicit behavior, or aggression.
Domestic Abuse Victims Seek to Raise Awareness
According to Amorillo.com, there is “a local community domestic violence task force, a group that includes representatives from local law enforcement, child protection and judicial agencies, [seeking] to raise awareness of domestic violence issues in local communities.”
Angie Stovall an advocate, shared, “I think the critical thing we need to focus on is the fact that these crimes have escalated. We have a percentage of people who have lost their lives because of some form of family violence. In the last 12 months, there have been about eight homicides (in Amarillo) somehow related to family violence.” The article shares that Stovall is a crisis services coordinator for Family Support Services which is a non-profit “dedicated to helping victims of sexual assault and family violence in Amarillo.” At the meetings, survivors can share the stories of what they went through and how they eventually got help.
One of the biggest challenges with abuse is that it often doesn’t start abruptly and victims are reluctant to report what is happening. Stoval shared, “an abusive relationship can progress so slowly that victims sometimes do not realize they are being victimized. An abusive relationship starts out like most relationships, she said. It can appear loving, supportive and affectionate until the abusive behaviors begin.” The hope is that the group will be able to help victims of domestic violence situations get help.
Local Celebrities Help Springfield Mom Fight Abuse
Cindy Dennis a Springfield mom is striving to make a difference for kids everywhere. Understanding the devastation abuse and bullying can cause children (a relative of hers was molested at the age of 3), Cindy wants to give children a voice to get help. She is now the author and illustrator of six children’s books “meant to educate and empower children with tools to keep themselves safe.”
An article by News-Leader shared that Cindy worked with local celebrities to produce narrated video versions of the books. While the books are only $9.95 each (eBooks are $1.99-2.99), Cindy wants every child to have access to this information.
The News-Leader article reported that, Cindy worked on the books for 15 years. “She went back to college in her 50s, knowing that pursuing a psychology degree would give her a professional understanding of the subject matter and she would be surrounded by experts in the field.” She shared that, “If you can save a child from the scars of abuse, it’s been worth it.”
The thought behind producing the videos is to help the information be more accessible and engaging. Cindy said that when it comes to child abuse, “People don’t want to talk about it. They feel awkward, and they don’t feel like they have the proper verbiage. (With the videos), you just hit play.”
The News-Leader article shared additional information about the books and videos:
“Friend Manual” is narrated by Doug Pitt and teaches kids about safety, the difference between good secrets and bad secrets, and what to do if a stranger approaches or tries to grab them.
“Your Voice,” narrated by award-winning freelance video journalist Ed Filmer, teaches children the difference between safe touches and unsafe touches and how to tell a trusted adult if someone touches them inappropriately.
“Your Voice is Power!” is narrated by Sheriff Jim Arnott and is for children who have been abused. It reassures the child that he or she is not alone, has done nothing wrong and encourages the child to tell a trusted adult.
“No More Bullies in Our School or Neighborhood” is narrated by Derek Smith, the man known as Springfield Batman, and shares what a bully is and what to do if you or a friend are being bullied.
“A Cotton Tale” is narrated by “Mystery Hour” host Jeff Houghton. It teaches about safe boundaries and the importance of staying close to home.
“Monsters! Monsters!” is narrated by local artist Gary Bedell. This is aimed at helping children control their tempers.
To learn more, visit CindyLuBooks.com.