Stepping Up For Children
Jayden Whisler stands in front of shoes lining the steps of the historic courthouse in Logan Thursday afternoon. The Child & Family Support Center placed a pair of shoes for each child who has had a substantiated case of abuse over the past year in Cache County. (Eli Lucero/Herald Journal)

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Child & Family Support Center officials wanted to leave a strong impression on those who attended a Thursday event aimed at preventing child abuse.

Organizers placed 237 pairs of shoes on the steps of the Historic County Courthouse to represent cases of child abuse in 2009. The event was a kickoff to recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month and about a dozen children were present for an official ribbon cutting to start the month-long event.

"Each of these shoes represents a child in the past year in Cache County who has had a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect," said Child & Family Support Center executive director Esterlee Molyneux. "This is the time of year that we're able to bring more community awareness to the issue."

Molyneux said preventing child abuse is something she and her team work on every day of the year.

"These 237 pairs of shoes are 237 pairs too many," she said. "We have got to do everything we can to keep our children safe."

Molyneux reported that Utah ranks 10th in the country in number of child abuse cases, saying there are 16.5 cases per 1,000 children.

"We know that 90 percent of felons, 70 percent of teen drug abusers, 50 percent of violent female criminals and 95 percent of teenage prostitutes have all suffered from child abuse," she added. "The state of Utah spends more than $1.5 billion per year on the ramifications from child abuse."

But figures aside, she said, the focus is on the lives and safety of the children who suffer and how prevention is the key to eliminating the problem.

Uniformed police officers, Bikers Against Child Abuse, city and county officials, social work professionals and residents from around the valley gathered to watch the presentation.

Cache County Attorney James Swink also spoke at the gathering. He says good communities start with good parents.

"When these children get to my office, the damage is done and lives have to be put back together again," he said. "Children are 20 percent of our community and we as adults have an obligation to protect them, to preserve their innocence and their ability to go forward with confidence in their lives."

April events include barbecues, cooking classes, benefit dinners and 5K runs. For a complete list of activities visit www.cachecfsc.org.

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