Published 12:59 am Wednesday, April 10, 2019

CAC: 176 cases of child abuse last year

Covington County Children’s Advocacy Center Director Kaci Perry said that each year, their Blue Ribbon Ceremony gets better and better.

The ceremony is held during April, Child Abuse Awareness Month, to honor the child victims of abuse and neglect.

Perry said that there were 176 confirmed cases of child abuse in Covington County in the past year, which is 64 more than the previous year.

“I guarantee you that the people here didn’t realize that there were that many cases in Covington County,” Perry said. “That is why it is so important to get the word out about child abuse. Those were only the ones that were confirmed and reported. There are so many more that go unreported, so to know that there are that many it is pretty scary, but we have so many people that are fighting for those children.”

Perry said that this ceremony is important because it informs the community of the CCCAC’s mission to help children of child abuse.

“This ceremony is an opportunity for us to make the community aware of what we do every day,” Perry said. “And to invite them to join us in the fight.”

The guest speaker, District Attorney Walt Merrell, began his speech by talking about a young girl, whom he called Llugia.

“She suffers from a demented form of parental neglect,” Merrell said. “A form of abandonment that is unusually unnecessary. She suffers from this abandonment because of a lack of involvement from her mother. They have no relationship whatsoever, except that they both exist.”

Merrell said that Llugia sometimes wonders about what it would have been like to have her mom with her.

“Llugia sometimes wonders about her mother and what it would have been like to blow dry her hair, or sing her a song at night before she went to bed, perhaps even there before she was baptized,” Merrell said. “But her mom wasn’t there, so she had to adjust. She had to adjust to living in a single parent household with her father and it definitely left a void that she longed to fill. In order to fill that void, she not only had to adjust, but she had to adapt.”

Llugia’s mother gave birth to her, put her in a bucket and left her out in the freezing cold to die. Merrell said the only thing that saved her was divine intervention.

“The Father works in mysterious ways,” Merrell said. “When Llugia was rescued, she was covered in cat hair. A momma cat had curled up with her in that bucket in what we can only explain as divine intervention. There is no animal instinct for a cat to offer comfort to a human child. If it were not for that miracle, baby Llugia would have died that night. The low temperature on that evening was in the 20s, as I recall, and the high during that day and the day after wasn’t much better. It was so cold that when she was taken to the hospital, they didn’t have thermometers that could read her body temperature.  She was blue and the doctors surely thought she was dead, but there was a faint pulse and a faint breath.”

Merrell said that people like to live in a bubble, but he hopes after his story and the ceremony that their bubble was burst.

“It feels safe and comfortable in our bubble,” Merrell said. “There are no children that get abused or neglected in the bubble that I live in and I like it that way, but that bubble is not reality. Llugia would say, you should stay inside my bubble for a few minutes, or maybe she would say inside my bucket. I hope that the bubble that you came in here with shattered like crystal on a tile floor. I hope that Llugia’s suffrage and all the tears that have been shed here today or may be shed tonight have burst your bubble, because there are a lot of children that can’t afford for you to stay in your bubble. They need you.”