The Edmond Sun

April 8, 2013

SLIDESHOW: 41 flags for 41 lives lost

Officials highlight child abuse prevention, awareness

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

OKLA. CITY — Jacque Rogers said it was an honor to be among the various officials but she wishes she didn’t have to be there.

Monday morning, Rogers was at the state Capitol, among those planting 41 flags, each representing a child who was killed due to child abuse in 2012. Others participating in the Healing Field event included Charlie Swinton, board president of Parent Promise, numerous lawmakers and other supporters including Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.

The flags will remain up through Wednesday evening.

“At one point it’s an honor to be with all these people,” said Rogers, a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse. “At another point it breaks my heart to know that we have 41 children who have died of abuse. That’s 41 too many.”

Rogers urged Oklahomans to be courageous and report child abuse if they see it happening.

Under state law, a citizens’ job is not to assess credibility of an incident but to report it. The Oklahoma Education Association recommends if you do not believe a child’s story you should tell that to a Department of Human Services worker or a police officer. Reporting abuse does not mean acting as an advocate for the prosecution. Citizens are merely conveying all the necessary information.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond, addressed the assembly in front of the Capitol.

Lamb said he was struck by the stakeholders represented at the event including case workers, lawmakers from both parties and both chambers, the State Health Department and the legal system.

“Mr. Prater, thank you very much for prosecuting and locking up the scum bags that want to harm our children in Oklahoma,” Lamb said as he looked at Prater who was holding a flag. “Thank you for what you do.”

Protecting those who are the most vulnerable is a bipartisan issue, an Oklahoma issue, Lamb said. Lamb said last year Oklahoma had enough cases of child abuse to nearly fill the University of Oklahoma’s Lloyd Noble Center and 41 child abuse-related deaths, averaging more than three per month. He thanked those who work to prevent child abuse.

Swinton said members of Parent Promise were there to support Child Abuse Awareness Month. Child abuse has a dramatic effect on Oklahoma, on children’s’ lives and on families, Swinton said.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108