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Students promote prevention of child abuse

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and the Russellville High School Peer Helpers have partnered with the Russellville City Schools Golden Tiger BIGS organization to increase awareness of child abuse in the community.

BIGS sponsor Carol Fowler said this event was one of the group’s goals for the year.

“We wanted to enlighten and educate the students and faculty about the presence of abuse and what to do if they suspect abuse is going on,” Fowler said.

April 3 students hosted a Blue Ribbon Event that lasted all day, starting at 7:30 a.m. All staff, students and administration were encouraged to wear blue that day, and the Peer Helpers and BIGS distributed blue ribbons to students as they arrived on campus and during lunch.

“This was a way to reach out and give avenues to help children,” Fowler said.

A table in the cafeteria displayed information about not just physical abuse but also neglect, emotional abuse and human trafficking. Students also provided a number of resources for people to use if they are uncomfortable talking to Fowler or the school counselor.

“We were excited to partner with BIGS for this project because it is a very important issue,” said Peer Helper sponsor Alana Swinney. “Peer Helpers exist to help and support our students and teachers.”

Blue and silver pinwheels can be seen spinning in front of the high school cafeteria in the Pinwheels for Prevention Garden the organizations set up. The pinwheel was chosen as the symbol for child abuse prevention in 2008 by the organization Prevent Child Abuse America.

“They are whimsical and childlike and represent the great childhoods we want for our children,” Fowler said.

For assistance or questions regarding child abuse prevention, the following resources are available: for United Way, call 211; for Child Help National Child Abuse, call 1-800-422-4453; for Safeplace call 256-767-6210 or 1-800-550-9215; for the National Children’s Advocacy Center call 256-533-5437; for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Shoals, call 256-248-1931; or for the RHS school counselors Alicia Moore and Michelle Murray, call 256-331-2110.

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