100 turn out to speak out against abuse

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 2, 2004

Two-year-old Alex Stradinger folds his hands in prayer during a candlelight vigil for Child Abuse Prevention month outside City Hall Thursday as his little sister, Julia, takes a nap. The two were pushed by their mother, Catherine Stradinger, and accompanied by Mindy Kiker, who was also strolling her children, Kennedy and Nathaniel, in support of the event.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[4/2/04]Five-month-old Julia Stradinger dozed in her stroller as her mother walked with nearly 100 others in the candlelight vigil Thursday to mark the start of Child Abuse Prevention month.

Little Julia was seated beside her 2-year-old brother, Alex, during the walk from the steps of the Warren County Courthouse to City Hall.

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“My sister works for the Child Abuse Prevention Center, and we came out to support the cause,” said Julia’s mother, Catherine Stradinger.

This is the fourth year CAP has sponsored the walk and vigil in hopes of making people aware that child abuse persists in the community, said the center’s director, Shaheena Haque.

“I firmly feel that education is empowering,” Haque said. “If more people know about it, then they can do something about it.”

The Exchange Club of Vicksburg’s CAP center is a nonprofit organization with offices in Warren and Claiborne counties. It is funded by local, state and federal grants and donations.

The walkers included community leaders, Vicksburg and Warren County residents and members of the United Way’s youth group, Teen H.E.L.P., held battery-powered lights shaped like candles.

The vigil’s culmination included a solo performance by Vicksburg violinist David Demirbilek and speeches by Mayor Laurence Leyens, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, Warren County Board of Supervisors President Charles Selmon, Youth Court Administrator Rachel Hardy and Vicksburg Police Chief Tommy Moffett.

Most of the speakers noted that 387 child abuse cases were reported in Warren County in 2003, but it is not known how many cases were not reported.

“There is a high percentage of cases that aren’t,” Moffett said. “If we can aggressively pursue the cases that are brought to light, we can bring the problem to the forefront and to the public’s eye.”