“Snap!” went the paper rings as dozens of local children, teachers and community members broke a chain that stretched around the Charlie-Rose Agri-Expo Center in Fayetteville, Friday. This gesture symbolized breaking the chains of child abuse that persist in the region.
Before breaking the chain, attendees visited booths from area organizations that provided information about child abuse prevention, took pictures with local mascots and enjoyed a program emphasizing the importance of child abuse prevention.
One of the program’s highlights included a speech from Daniel Svoboda, a motivational speaker and author who also has autism.
Svoboda said he knew what it was like to be bullied and encouraged children to take a stand against all forms of bullying.
“As we put our gifts and talents together, we can all put a stop to bullying and once and for all make the world a better place for everybody and build powerful, stronger, amazing communities, no matter the negative excuse,” he said.
According to Svoboda, life is not always fair, but children and adults should remain confident and determined in the face of negativity.
“Life sometimes has its share of challenges,” he said. “The good news is that these challenges do not last forever and life does not have the final say.”
After Svoboda’s speech, Fort Bragg’s Family Advocacy Program presented a puppet show featuring Sgt. Mike.
The show discussed bullying and introduced children to the difference between safe and unsafe touches.
Sgt. Mike advised children to always tell a grownup they trust if they ever feel uncomfortable.
He also provided the following tips for staying safe.
Never go anywhere alone
Avoid dark or deserted areas
Avoid being alone with someone who gives an uncomfortable feeling
Don’t share personal information online
Never send any type of selfie to someone from online
Never agree to meet someone from online
The main goal of annual event was to raise awareness about child abuse and provide education for prevention, according to Scott Chase, child advocate, FAP.
“People think that if they don’t see it then it doesn’t happen, but it could be taking place in the next house over or in their church,” he said. “Have your eyes open. When you see it or suspect it, speak up and advocate for children.”