Child advocacy groups in South Mississippi are looking to gain support as they continue their mission to protect children.
The Jackson County Board of Supervisors issued a special proclamation during Monday's meeting, declaring April as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.
Judge Sharon Sigalas of Jackson County Youth Court explained, "This is an opportunity for us to bring to the limelight that there are children that don't get to smile on a daily basis because of abuse and neglect."
Officials say in 2017, more than 1,700 children suffered from some sort of abuse or neglect in Jackson County. Right now, around 270 Jackson County children are in the state's custody.
Sigalas stated, "84 children out of our 270 that are on track for termination of parental rights. We have parents who are not able to overcome a drug addiction or break a cycle of abuse, so that they end up losing their children to the system."
Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA volunteers, work closely with the youth court to give those children a voice.
"Children love their parents no matter what they do to them. CASA is there to support the children while the parents are there trying to get themselves together," said Sigalas.
During the month of April, CASA is asking for the community's support. That support can be as simple as wearing a blue ribbon."That goes a long way, for when someone comes up and says what's that. What does that mean? We want it to stop. We want the cycle to break. We don't want to be needed," noted Frances Allsup.
Jackson County CASA will host several events this month including a child abuse awareness and prevention banquet on April 26th.