Circuit Judge Mike Medlock urged a crowd gathered on the Crawford County Courthouse lawn at noon Monday to not be shy when it comes to suspected child abuse or neglect.
"Don’t be afraid to report suspected cases to the proper authorities," Medlock told those assembled for a march up Main Street in downtown Van Buren to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect.
"Then let the authorities who are trained to investigate these reports take over," said Medlock, who serves as the county’s juvenile court judge.
Van Buren’s march was held in conjunction with marches throughout the United States and the Million March Against Child Abuse in Washington, D.C.
The local march ended at the park north of the train depot where the Crawford County Division of Children and Family Services distributed information related to child abuse signs, symptoms, prevention, mandating reporting, foster parent training and parenting strategies to community providers, businesses, law enforcement and schools.
"There are many things people in the community can do to keep our children and community from becoming part of child abuse and neglect statistics," said Debbie Pippin of the Crawford County Division of Children and Family Services.
In 2012, there were 35,743 reported cases of child abuse and neglect in Arkansas. Of those, 7,435 were substantiated.
Medlock said child abuse and neglect is a delicate subject. But, he said it is "everyone’s responsibility to help raise our children and guide them as they grow up."
"The more we are aware of, the more we can head off," Medlock said. "One child in foster care is one too many."
Medlock urged marchers to be a role model for a child and to donate both time and money.
Pippin said abuse or neglect should be reported to local police or the Arkansas child abuse and neglect hotline at (800) 482-5964.