In 2008, 16 children from across the state of Iowa died from child abuse, says Kathy Fritz with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in Buena Vista County.
To recognize these children's lives and others who suffer or have been victimized by abuse in the past, the annual Child Abuse Candlelight Vigil will be held April 9 on the courthouse green in Storm Lake. The event, coinciding with Child Abuse Awareness Month in April, will begin at 5:30 and will last about 30 minutes. In case of rain the vigil will move indoors to the courthouse lobby.
Fritz encourages everyone to come and help raise awareness and support families. Fritz says she was saddened that only a small crowd came to the event last year.
With the current economic situation adding to family stress for many, it is a key time for public understanding, the local advocate says. According to Fritz, past trends have sadly shown numbers of abuse deaths increasing during economic crises.
The guest speaker this year will be County Sheriff Gary Launderville who as a law enforcer has been first on the scene of tragedies involving child abuse. He is also a foster and adoptive parent. Storm Lake Police and Fire Department officials are also expected to be represented. Cardboard cutouts will recognize the lives of Iowa children lost to abuse in the past year, and a poem and prayers will be shared.