ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – “I’d bet my life savings that within a mile of your home, unless you live in a very remote area, there’s a kid being abused and no one knows about it.”

That’s what child abuse survivor turned advocate for child abuse prevention Michael McLaughlin said during a kickoff rally in Forest Park on Friday.

Wearing pins with blue ribbons, a coalition of groups is hoping to raise awareness (during April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month) that child abuse remains a problem in society.

Most-recent data shows seven children died from abuse and neglect in the St. Louis region in a year’s time, while nearly 13,400 abuse calls were made to authorities.

During April, there’s a commitment from 250 groups and persons to post yard signs that say “We Support Strong Families and Safe Children.” The number corresponds with the city’s 250th anniversary.

Michael McLaughlin is hoping the signs will get community members to do more to help child abuse survivors, “We shouldn’t look at these kids as damaged goods and think there’s no hope for them. They’ve made it through a lot and they’re still fighting. We should still be willing to fight for them.”

McLaughlin’s group “Unite For Kids” is placing large barrels around the St. Louis area to collect clothes for youth agencies.

For more information on Child Abuse Prevention Month in St. Louis, contact the St. Louis Family & Community Partnership at 314-534-6015.

Missouri’s suspected child abuse/neglect complaint hotline number is 1-800-392-3738.


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