Apr 8, 2008

Taking a stand against child abuse

by Jennifer Schmidt
Almost 50,000 children were reported as possible victims of domestic abuse in Virginia last year. In light of such reports, Jenna Lodge, a 2007 graduate of Liberty University, has created Child Abuse Awareness Week to inform and mobilize students in the fight against child abuse. Kicking off on April 14, the week-long emphasis is meant to raise awareness and funding for the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). Students can buy “Prevent Child Abuse” bracelets for the cost of $1 starting that Monday. Such donations would help Lodge start a new program at the YWCA called Young Achievers.

“It can save kids—that’s our hope,” Lodge said of her plans for the program, which is designed to teach 7 to 17-year-olds how to set goals and gain leadership experience. “We already have one 11-year-old signed up and ready to go,” Lodge said, noting that the only current hindrance is lack of funding.

Donations are also critical in helping the YWCA provide necessary counseling to students that are referred to the center. “Counseling is by far the greatest need,” Lodge said, who splits her time between direct work with the children and acting as the YWCA’s business development manager.

Lodge described children who had experienced counseling as “more confident, less aggressive, better in school — their whole being evolves.” In addition to raising money, Child Abuse Awareness Week is designed to inform students of the extent and brutality of domestic violence. Lodge explained that Resident Assistants will be given stories of children who have suffered domestic abuse to read in hall meetings held on Tuesday, April 15.

Throughout the week, students will also be invited to write notes of encouragement to children who have suffered from domestic abuse. The notes will be distributed not only at Lynchburg’s local YWCA but also to other groups in the state and the rest of the country as well.

Lodge hopes that students will come to hear Theresa Jones speak on Wednesday, April 16. Having suffered abuse at the age of 8, Jones speaks with a voice of experience and is now active with various relief agencies in New York City.

“I would encourage anyone who knows they are going to work with children to come,” Lodge said, specifically noting the value Jones’ discussion will carry for family and consumer sciences, counseling, education and youth ministries majors. “Speak up and take a stand,” Lodge said. “Five or 10 years from now students will be parents. They could be the advocates or the abusers.”

One third of Lynchburg’s YWCA funding comes from donors. For more information on provided services or volunteer opportunities, call (434) 528-1041. Contact Jennifer Schmidt at jschmidt@liberty.edu.
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