San Bernardino County Children’s Network hosted the Children’s Memorial Flag Ceremony on April 26 at the San Bernardino County Government Center to pay tribute to the young souls lost to the tragedies of child abuse and neglect throughout the county and state. The tradition of raising the Children’s Memorial flag on the fourth Friday of every April, coinciding with Child Abuse Awareness Month, serves as a poignant reminder of the lives affected by these harrowing circumstances.

Opening ceremonies began with a welcome and acknowledgement from Jeany Zepeda, director of Children and Family Services, followed by the pledge of allegiance led by Kevin Anderson, interim Children’s Network officer.

The commitment to protect San Bernardino County’s children from adverse experiences that often contribute to child abuse was shared by Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and First District Supervisor Col. Paul Cook (Ret.).

“We are here to honor the kids and children lost to violence and these are tragedies that are all over every community in San Bernardino County,” Cook said. “For these kids to succeed we have to break that violence.”

Second District Supervisor Jesse Armendarez expressed, “The impact of child abuse and neglect across the nation is that child abuse hotlines are inundated with over 4 million referrals each year alleging mistreatment to nearly 8 million children. It is crucial to acknowledge that many of these referrals arise from neglect and the challenges of poverty.”

Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr. shared his dedication to San Bernardino County’s children with encouragement. “Children are our most valuable resource and will shape the future of San Bernardino County. Speaking personally as a former probation officer for juveniles and as a former public-school teacher for 15 years, children matter to me personally.”

The ceremony concluded with an invocation by Dr. Clyde Stewart, pastor of Westside Christian Church, followed by a moment of silence as the Child Welfare League of America flag was raised. The bright red flag features an outline of people holding hands in solidarity, symbolizing unity and support in the fight against child abuse while honoring the lives lost.

The significance of this ceremony transcends the local scale as a larger statewide endeavor aimed at amplifying awareness regarding the pervasive issue of child abuse and neglect.

The overarching vision of the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) is to see every county host a Children’s Memorial Day event annually and conduct a flag-raising ceremony on this designated Friday in April, symbolizing a collective commitment to honor the innocent lives lost.

Beyond symbolism, the act of statewide participation in the Children’s Memorial Flag-Raising initiative is poised to foster heightened awareness regarding child abuse and neglect through a united message, fostering broader community engagement in preventative efforts.

Additionally, OCAP advocates for all counties to observe a moment of silence and introspection, providing a dedicated space to honor and remember the young lives lost to violence.

Additional County Update News – May 2, 2024

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