Students rally to prevent child abuse

Wednesday, April 06, 2011
, Shirleen Allicot
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Children at Clara Barton Elementary School had their pinwheels in hand Wednesday at a rally to mark Child Abuse Prevention month.

"Keep us safe! Keep us safe!" they chanted in the school yard.

"If you ever feel that you are not safe or someone is hurting you, please tell us," they were told.

The Pinwheels for Prevention Rally was organized by the group Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania.

Johari Rollins, wife of Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was there to support the cause.

"I feel like preventing child abuse is a topic that no one really wants to talk about. That's why we felt like we really need to be spokespeople and use our voices to really raise awareness about neglect and child abuse," said Rollins.

The event honors former Barton student Charlenni Ferreira, a 10-year-old girl who died as a result of horrific child abuse and torture. Robin Jones was Charlenni's teacher.

"I wish I could've done more. But I know that we tried and the nurse tried, and I know that it will make a difference going forth," said Jones.

Jones said she recognized the signs of abuse two years before Charlenni died. But somehow even after she reported it, the little girl ended up back home with her abusive parents.

"It just shows that people have taken the step to look back and say we should've made a difference," said Jones. "And this is something positive moving forward, so that no other child will suffer like some children do today."

Taking a look at what was once Charlenni's classroom, the whole point of Wednesday's ceremony becomes clear: to prevent what happened her from happening to anyone else.

As the event moved into the auditorium, the mayor stopped by to speak. And families got to see a message from Jimmy Rollins himself. The message of protecting our children was clear for students and grownups alike: pay attention to the signs of possible child abuse.

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philadelphia, pennsylvania, abuse, child abuse, education, school, children, feltonville, local/state, shirleen allicot
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