The walk, which began at Blount County DHR, ended at the Blount County Courthouse with a short speech by DHR service supervisor Alicia Tolbert.
Mainstreet Urgent Care senior community educator Nicole Singleton has attended these walks previously and feels strongly about supporting this cause. Singleton said, “Each time I’ve attended the Child Abuse Awareness Walk, I’ve always come away with two main thoughts. One is the realization of how passionate those walking and supporting this cause truly are and how much they care for the children of Blount County. The second thought is the despair of how many children each year are affected by child abuse in Blount county. I could never imagine living through that as a child, and what I try to do now is pray for those children and support our local organizations like the Blount County Children’s Center and Blount County DHR who help these children on a daily basis.”
Blount County Department of Human Resources averages more than 70 suspected cases of child abuse each month.
Singleton continued, “ A lot of people want to know ways they can help, and I’m no expert, but to me raising awareness is specifically important. Some people simply don’t realize the astounding statistics, so they think it’s not happening to children they know, or if it is, they try to look the other way. That can’t happen. We have to be aware of what is going on in our own neighborhoods and be willing to speak up for these children.”
Tolbert, who has been a social worker for 19 years, has seen it all – physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. She says it never gets any easier to see children who have endured any type of child abuse. Tolbert’s mission is to protect the children who are unable to protect themselves.
When asked if there is anything that is most important in suspected child abuse cases, Tolbert replied, “Always report suspected abuse, because as the reporter, you may be the one who saves that child’s life.”