Friday, February 3, 2012

Fighting child abuse one T-shirt at a time

This week, we get advice from Bailey Brooks, a sophomore at North Mecklenburg High, who is taking a school project to the next level by creating project NOTICE.

The project aims to generate awareness of child abuse in Mecklenburg County by selling T-shirts and buttons. She has presented her project to the staff of Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, the Mecklenburg County Child Fatality Team, and area schools, she said.

Bailey began selling T-shirts for her NOTICE campaign in November and has raised about $800 so far. All proceeds go to Teen Health Connection and the Council for Children’s Rights.

To donate to Bailey’s cause, visit her website.

Q: What is the idea behind NOTICE?
“The main objective is to get the whole community to NOTICE child abuse and know what to do when they know or suspect someone is being abused. Though I am focusing on getting teenagers to notice and report child abuse, I believe it is just as important to have anyone know what to do when child abuse is suspected.”

Q: What inspired you to get involved?
“Over the summer, I began watching the Casey Anthony trial, and learning about the Zahra Baker trial. I realized that though Caylee and Zahra were dead, the community showed support. But then I thought, ‘The community should show support to the children before they are seriously harmed or dead. People need to NOTICE and report child abuse because two innocent lives were taken all because nobody noticed.’”

Q: What was most challenging about this project?
“The most challenging part is spreading the word to other schools. North Meck High and Piedmont IB Middle are familiar with my project, and some people from different schools have a shirt, but I want more CMS schools to NOTICE.”

Q: Was there anything you learned while researching that shocked you?
“Yes, currently there are over 127,000 abused children in North Carolina and 13,000 live here in Mecklenburg County. I learned that of all child fatalities due to abuse, 80 percent of those children are under the age of 4. I also learned that boys are more abused then girls, however one out of every three girls will be sexually assaulted before they’re age 18.”

Q: What advice would you give to kids who may have struggled with or have seen abuse in their lives?
“My advice is, don’t give up and never lose hope. When you feel like you’re all alone and nobody wants to listen to you, believe you, or love you, there is always someone.

Q: Do you have a motto in life?
“Be strong now because things will get better. It might be stormy, but it can’t rain forever,” - anonymous.

Q: What has been most rewarding about this project?
“The most rewarding thing is knowing that I am helping someone. By helping people know what to do when they are aware of child abuse, they can help prevent it.

Q: What are your plans for the future, do you hope to continue with NOTICE?
“This summer I am going to Brazil and I am going to spend some time with orphans and
spread my NOTICE project there. I will continue this project because I know how thankful people are to know what to do when they see or hear of abuse.”