Candlelight Vigil Held For Abused And Neglected Children - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/22/02

Candlelight Vigil Held For Abused And Neglected Children

Would you be able to sleep at night knowing your community didn't have enough firefighters to put out a fire, or there weren't enough teachers at school to teach your child?

One group can't sleep knowing that hundreds of children are neglected each year- partially due to the lack of area social workers.

Hundreds of candles were glowing bright Thursday evening in honor of the abused and neglected children in Mississippi. People of all ages came out to show their support to those who are and continue to be in life-threatening situations.

"I mean, it's just not right for all these kids to have that happen to them," said 16-year old Amanda Young.

And the members of PACT, or Professionals Advocating For Children Together, agree.

The group was out getting people to sign a petition to the governor to bring awareness to what is going on with thousands of children across the state each year.

They want the state to allocate more money that would employ more social workers, and hopefully decreasing the risk of yet another child being ignored by the system.

"We're supposed to have 22 workers in this county, we have 8 currently. It's very difficult to get accurate statistics, but we suspect from the statistics we have been able to get this year, that at least 50% of all the reports that come in, are being ignored or not being investigated," said PACT member Shelley Foreman.

"This should not even be an issue that we're having to have a vigil to recognize children who are being ignored and that are being abused and neglected. The fact that we are having to have this at all is very, very sad," Foreman said.

The group hopes that as the candles are blown out at the close of the vigil, the community will keep the light of the images of each neglected child burning in their hearts.

About 200 people showed up at Thursday night's event. And hopefully these 200 will continue to fight for the approximately 300 children who are abused everyday in Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson counties.

By Karla Redditte

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