At the beginning of the month, silhouettes of blue children surrounded by pinwheels began popping up around Kankakee and Iroquois counties. These are the “Blue Kids” of Child Network and are on display to raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Since 2009, Child Network — whose mission is to improve the response to child abuse and to advocate for the best interest of children who have been placed into the foster care system — has been setting up the displays around the area.
Executive director Kristin Jackson explained that it’s a reminder to the community that child abuse can and does exist around us and it’s important to be aware.
“I think a lot of times people don’t realize the prevalence of child abuse,” she said. “You hear about it, but you don’t realize that it’s right here where you live.”
Jackson said that the blue silhouettes are displayed to represent children who have suffered as a result of abuse or neglect. The pinwheels that often accompany the displays are an uplifting symbol of the bright futures that all children deserve.
There are less Blue Kids on display this year due to COVID decreasing the number of volunteers available to set them up. However, there are typically anywhere between 25 to 50 signs on display throughout the area.
Child Network will be presenting at Mental Health Network’s virtual roundtable at 8 a.m. April 16. It will also be co-sponsoring a training session on April 23 called “Child Abuse: Signs and Effects” presented by Riverside Medical Center. The event is open to the community.
Child Network is an umbrella for two national programs — the Child Advocacy Center and the CASA program which is volunteer-driven. Jackson shared that they are always looking for volunteers and those interested can visit the organization’s website at childnetwork.org to complete a volunteer application.
“As a community it’s our responsibility to recognize abuse and neglect and to know the proper steps to take and to report suspected child abuse,” said Jackson. “If anybody suspects child abuse, please report it.”
The Illinois DCFS hotline is 1-800-25-ABUSE. Child Network is located at 171 N. West Ave. Ste. #1, Bradley, and have a satellite office in Watseka.