Police cars don ribbons to raise awareness

Published 9:34 am Friday, April 13, 2007

Police and sheriff’s deputies are adding a splash of blue to their patrol cars for the month of April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

That blue ribbon has a deep meaning, Earlene Singleton, a social worker with Mississippi Department of Human Services said Thursday.

“The blue ribbon symbolizes bruises,” Singleton said. “We asked (law enforcement) to display the ribbons. We want them to be visible, and what’s more visible than law enforcement?”

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Law enforcement plays a big part in preventing and dealing with child abuse, Singleton said.

“They’ve been working closely with us,” she said. “At times, we need assistance in the community.”

If someone suspects child abuse, he should report it to law enforcement or to DHS, she said.

And prevention is the key to curbing child abuse.

“If a mother is stressed, help her out,” Singleton said. “Don’t be afraid of intruding. You could take her kids to the park, or give her tips on stress relief.

“People are too afraid to step in and help. They’re afraid of being rejected, but you’ve got to try.”

Adams County Sheriff Ronny Brown and Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins both said they were happy to work with DHS.

“We’re just glad (the abuse rate) is relatively low in Adams County,” Brown said. “It’s people like (DHS) who are keeping them low.”

Still, Mullins said he thought there was always more to be done.

“The question, and what bothers you, is how much is going unreported?” Mullins said.

The first step to preventing further abuse is to report suspected child abuse, Singleton said.

Those concerned should call law enforcement or the local DHS office. Another alternative is to call Mississippi’s child abuse hotline at 1-800-222-8000.