Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon
Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder
Against a lobby lined with silhouettes representing abused children in Madison County, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan, Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder, and other local officials announced their commitment to preventing child abuse as they kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month Friday.
The event occurs annually and similar events have been celebrated in Chicago and Springfield in recent days.
Simon spoke of her experience representing the victims of domestic violence as an attorney and thanked those attending the event held in the Madison County government building.
"We all like to think that things like child abuse, mental illness and domestic violence happen to other people," Simon said. "Those needs touch all of us. The long term effects of what so many of you in this room are doing are so important to the state of Illinois."
The day's event featured displays from local child abuse prevention groups and t-shirts decorated by children that related to the issue. Those works were displayed outside as well as inside the county building.
Silhouettes of boys and girls lined the stairwell and railings of the building's floors.
"We're not going to be satisfied in Madison County until all of those silhouettes are gone," Dunstan said.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services honored the Third Judicial Circuit's Family Violence Prevention Council with an award and check.
Crowder, who co-chairs the council with Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli, accepted the award and highlighted the work of all the council's committees and members.
She thanked them all for having worked "tirelessly to end the suffering of children."
State's Attorney Thomas Gibbons emphasized his office's commitment to prosecuting those guilty of child abuse but emphasizing proactive initiatives as the key to stopping the problem.
"This is a problem that haunts all of us and damages the soul of our community," Gibbons said.
Commander Brad Parsons of the Illinois State Police, Valda Haywood of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and Tarra Winters of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois also spoke at Friday's morning event.
The Family Violence Prevention Council also announced its annual training.
That event is set for April 26 at the Edwardsville Moose Lodge.