NEWARK, Ohio, March 30, 2017 – Faculty, staff and students on the shared campus of The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) will have a hard time forgetting that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. That's because each day they'll walk by a blue ribbon that was painted on the campus lawn to keep child abuse top of mind.
"For years, Licking County Job and Family Services has joined other counties around the state each April to raise awareness for child abuse prevention efforts. For more than a decade, Licking County has planted a pinwheel for each report of child abuse or neglect received in the previous calendar. Licking County Children Services receives about 1700 reports each year. While the pinwheel display was impactful, it took a considerable amount of time to set up, and the pinwheels were fairly expensive to purchase," said Licking County Job and Family Services Program Planner Nathan Keirns. "When looking for a replacement, we wanted something that could have a broader audience and something we could use to harness the power of social media. One of our talented staff members was inspired by the graphics he had seen on the fields of professional sports teams and suggested a stencil to paint a blue ribbon, another symbol of our efforts, in multiple locations throughout the county."
Officials from Licking County Job and Family Services painted the blue ribbon on the bank, east of the Martha Grace Reese Amphitheatre , yesterday (March 29). Field paint was used to stencil the ribbon on the grass, and the ribbon will fade over time as the lawn is mowed during the spring months.
"When thinking about where we could paint blue ribbons in the county where it would have the largest impact, the Newark campus came to mind," said Keirns. "We selected the Newark campus specifically because of the number of students, faculty, staff and visitors to the campus who are engaged in the community. We felt our message would speak to them and inspire them to consider the needs of Licking County children. I hope it inspires a moment of reflection to think about issues like local child abuse."
In 2016, Licking County Children Services received 1,738 reports of child abuse or neglect that impacted 2,480 Licking County children.
"On a statewide scale, an abuse or neglect referral is received every 30 minutes," said Keirns. "I hope when students, faculty and staff on campus see the ribbon each day, they think about the children and start asking themselves if they can do something to help."
Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field, or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor's degree program. The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that's challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State's more than 200 majors.