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Attorney General’s Office, Children’s Justice Centers Launch New SHINE Child Abuse Support Initiative


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2020
 
 

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE, CHILDREN’S JUSTICE CENTERS LAUNCH NEW SHINE CHILD ABUSE SUPPORT INITIATIVE
SHINE Campaign Lead By Survivors Rabbi Avremi Zippel, Former Senator Aaron Osmond and Musician Deondra Brown
 

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office and Children’s Justice Center Program (CJC) have launched a public awareness campaign dedicated to changing the conversation around child abuse and empowering survivors.

Listen to the press conference below:

Utah is the first state to roll out a SHINE campaign of this size with a digital marketing presence and an original PSA. Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes was joined by Utah natives and SHINE ambassadors Rabbi Avremi Zippel (Chabad Lubavitch of Utah), Aaron Osmond (former state senator) and Deondra Brown (pianist of The 5 Browns). Additionally, billboards have been placed throughout the state promoting SHINE and the important work of local CJCs.
 
The National Children’s Alliance, national membership organization for CJCs, created SHINE as an initiative to end the stigma associated with child abuse and encourage community members to support survivors.
 
Zippel said that being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse is a lonely and isolating experience. “The SHINE Campaign provides survivors of child abuse with reminders that are so necessary — that they are in no way alone and can and will go on to lead the fullest and most meaningful lives imaginable. We are fortunate to have organizations like Utah’s CJCs that are a pillar of support to young people in our community. I am proud to be part of this endeavor to stand with, inspire, and support fellow survivors.”
 
The campaign’s ambassadors acknowledge that each survivor’s path is different and equally valid. For some, their healing is private and personal. For others, action is a powerful tool.
 
Osmond said as a legislator, he felt compelled to strengthen state laws to protect the rights of victims. “As a victim of abuse, I also realized my own story needed to be told in that public setting to help remove the stigma of talking about abuse. It was hard to open up about such a personal impact. But in sharing my story, I have helped to engage my legislative colleagues, neighbors, and friends in discussing the problem and creating awareness in how we can all prevent child abuse”. 
 
During the current pandemic, Attorney General Reyes stated that Utah’s child abuse reports have dropped by about 40%, but not because child abuse has declined. Stay-at-home restrictions have made it difficult for the most common mandatory reporters — teachers, coaches and other trusted adults — to observe concerning behaviors, or for children to safely disclose to them. As statewide restrictions inch closer to a new norm, professionals who work with child abuse victims hope children will begin to feel comfortable enough to disclose. But public awareness is also an important factor moving forward.
 
The SHINE campaign celebrates the resiliency of survivors and the critical role of CJCs in helping children find hope, support and healing. Every year Utah’s 25 CJCs handle more than 7,200 cases, providing advocacy, medical and mental health services, and other support to children throughout the justice process.
 
Brown is optimistic about the road ahead for this next generation of children. “If I had known as a child that CJCs were out there, I would have come forward much sooner and disclosed about the abuse I experienced. I was afraid I wouldn’t be believed and would be all alone. But the tides are shifting. People are discussing this topic and the message of SHINE is an opportunity to take that a step further — to celebrate the strength and determination of survivors and challenge us all to stand by them. If children who are experiencing abuse now see there are others out there who understand and will believe them, they will feel more empowered to come forward.”
 
To download press materials on the Utah SHINE Campaign, please click here.


Visit http://utahcjc.org/shine for more information.
 

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About SHINE
SHINE is a national campaign to transform the conversation about child abuse. For too many, childhood is where the trauma starts. It’s time for us to be a light that survivors can turn to. 

About Utah Children’s Justice Centers
When abuse is suspected, the child is brought to a Children’s Justice Center–a safe, child-focused facility– to talk to a trained interviewer. A team of professionals make decisions together about how to handle the case and help the child. Children and families are connected with services and supported throughout the process. 

Watch the press conference on the launch of the SHINE campaign below:

Pledge to Prevent Child Abuse

April 7, 2020

Regardless of the circumstances of their birth, every child deserves to be loved, cared for, and kept safe. Tragically, many children each year fall victim to abuse and neglect, robbing them of the innocence of childhood and exposing them to pervasive, detrimental effects that can have a lifelong impact on a child’s physical, psychological, and behavioral health and well-being.

This month, we recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month. As schools close and families and communities adjust to a changing environment as a result of COVID-19, stressors are more prevalent as unemployment rates rise and children are urged to remain at home. We implore families to practice kindness, patience, and understanding. Raising a child is of paramount importance and, at times, can be the most challenging. We celebrate the courage it takes to be a parent or caregiver and commend the effort that that title brings.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office prioritizes protecting children from all forms of abuse. We are proud to support and work alongside our community partners to protect children and provide resources to families across Utah. The Utah Children’s Justice Center (CJC) Program, administered by the Attorney General’s Office, provides child-focused support and safe environments in which representatives from law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical services, and victim advocacy work together to conduct interviews and make team decisions about investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse cases. For more information, visit the CJC website.

This month, take the time to familiarize yourself with the signs of child neglect and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, including sudden changes in behavior and untreated physical or medical issues. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services outlines the definitions, signs, and symptoms of child abuse and neglect here. Educate yourself and your family on these coronavirus resources and tips for parents, children, and others as we all work together to endure the struggles that the pandemic brings to our communities. If you suspect child abuse call 1-855-323-3237.

For more information, visit the following resources: