Since January, more than a thousand children have been neglected, physically or sexually abused in Harrison County alone. Professionals Advocating Children Together or "PACT" gave these silent victims a voice and some hope Thursday night with their second annual Candlelight Vigil.
Child advocates are speaking for the hundreds of local children who suffer each day in silence.
Judge Margaret Alfonso is a PACT member who says, "We have everything from children being burned with irons to the most unspeakable acts committed on children right here in Harrison County."
PACT members say the Department of Human Services remains under funded and despite recent hires, DHS remains understaffed. That means many abuse complaints don't even get investigated.
"I don't even like to think of what a child is going through tonight. I wish all of the children in Harrison County were here and could participate," Alfonso said.
This Candlelight Vigil is meant to bring attention to the growing problem and to send out a message of hope to children who live with abuse.
"We're lighting candles for them and we're letting them know that we care," Alfonso said.
The women of PACT also got artist Patty Banister on board to help abused kids. She donated her talents to design a "Stop Child Abuse" license plate for the group.
You can buy one for $30.00 and the money raised will go directly to child abuse prevention in your County. For a "Stop Child Abuse" license plate application call the Harrison County Youth Court 865-7000. They must sell 200 before the plates will be produced.
Along with your completed application, send a $30.00 check payable to the "Mississippi State Tax Commission", Motor Vehicle Licensing Bureau. Of the $30.00 collected, $24.00 will be available to the Department of Human Services in your county.