October marks three years since 3 year old Autumn Elgersma tragically died from injuries sustained while with her babysitter. With child abuse awareness month kicking off Friday, Autumn’s mom, along with the entire community, gathered in her memory at the Second Annual Rally to End Child Abuse in Orange City, Iowa…releasing balloons, and placing magnets and ribbons on the sheriffs’ cars in her honor.
“It’s been very healing for us to be able to take Autumn’s story, share it with the local communities and the world through online outlets… and just making sure that people don’t forget about her and know that there are a lot of other kids who have hurts that we don’t see.” says Jennifer Elgersma, Autumn’s Mom.
Autumn’s Center, alongside the Season’s Center, work to raise awareness of child abuse with rallies, legislative meetings, fundraisers, and training info sessions. According to the Season’s Center, last year in the state of Iowa 7,400 kids were abused, that’s about the population of Sioux Center.
“There’s legislative work that needs to be done. We need to pass legislation and there needs to be appropriation for prevention of child abuse. When we’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars on responding to abuse but we’re not spending hardly any money to help prevent it, that’s a problem” says Kim Scorza, Executive Director, Season’s Center for Behavioral Health.
The Season’s Center took care of 2,100 abused children last year. Law enforcement alongside the center stresses the importance of “See Something, Say Something.” The Sioux County Sheriff says everyone needs to remain vigilant to give a voice for those abused.
“Make sure that their child knows, ‘This isn’t something that you did that you deserve, There’s people out there that do this kind of thing, it shouldn’t happen, but it does” says Dan Altena, Sheriff of Sioux County.
The Season’s Center stressed that child abuse awareness is important every day… Not just the month of April.