Event fights child abuse

Published 12:07 am Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cedar Point Country Club will host an annual event against child abuse and neglect for the second year.

Champions for Children’s 32nd annual Celebrity Night is set for Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. The country club is at 80056 Clubhouse Drive, off Bridge Road in North Suffolk.

Bessie Marie Renner, executive director of the group, said the “celebrities” would include Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson and several other local political leaders.

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“They will be there to help serve — so to speak — as waiters for the evening,” Renner said.

Proceeds from the event will fund local prevention and education programs against child abuse and neglect, she said.

Champions for Children is the new name of the organization that used to be known as Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads. The organization announced a name change and a new board of directors at the beginning of March.

Renner said she will be at the event — one of seven taking place in Hampton Roads — representing Champions for Children as well as Stewards of Children, which works to stop child sexual abuse.

Literature available at the event will cover safe-sleep practices and proper ways of handling infants, Renner said. Other organizations will provide other information for parents, she added.

The need to raise community awareness of child abuse and neglect was highlighted by a report, released on Wednesday, that found more than a third of 33 child fatalities across Virginia in fiscal 2013 occurred in the Eastern region.

“I think the community needs to be open to the discussion of child abuse and neglect,” Renner said. “Unfortunately, this is a topic that people do not want to talk about.”

But child abuse and neglect occurs in the community every day, she added, “and we need to do something about it.”

Renner urged anyone who witnesses child abuse or neglect to report it to the authorities.

Children, she said, “have the smallest voice, and they tend to be ignored.”

“If you get upset at your neighbor and whack them on the bottom, that’s a Class 1 misdemeanor,” she said. “(But) if you do that to a child, that’s acceptable. They are ignored, and I don’t think that’s right.”

The event will also include a raffle, Renner said, with sporting memorabilia, an iPad and a basket of Royal Chocolate — from the Virginia Beach store — up for grabs.

Rather than selling tickets, a portion of proceeds from food and beverage sales will benefit the cause, she said.

Champions for Children, a volunteer-led nonprofit, works with local, state and national organizations to spread information about preventing child abuse and neglect.

For more information, visit www.championsforchildrenhr.org.