A new partnership formed between East Central University and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will raise awareness about child safety and the prevention of child abuse Saturday [April 25] at the Chickasaw Nation's Annual Children's Fair.
ECU's Tribal Police Training Program has joined forces with the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services to host its first "Take 25" event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the fair, which will be held at the Pontotoc County Agri-Plex.
In addition, members of Lambda Alpha Epsilon criminal justice organization will fingerprint children and provide parents with CDs that include the fingerprints, their children's photos and vital information.
Take 25 is a national child safety campaign that encourages parents, educators, community leaders and law enforcement to take 25 minutes of their time to talk to children about safety.
"This could be safety at a shopping mall, in their neighborhood or internet safety. We are really excited about this new partnership," said Sonya Hensley, project coordinator for the Tribal Police Training Program.
Dr. Steve Turner, director of the Police Training Program and ECU's vice president for finance and administration, said Take 25 promotes an ongoing dialogue between children, families and communities about child safety.
"One of the keys to keeping children safer," Turner said, "is understanding the risks they face, such as the threats posed by abductors and online exploiters. With the right information and resources, parents can take action to better protect their children and help ensure their safety."
Materials will be available at the fair that will give parents and guardians vital prevention tools and information they need to talk with their children.
"The NCMEC has developed simple safety tips and conversation starters that can help parents or others initiate a 25-minute discussion with children," Turner said. "Whether they participate in an event or take time at home to talk to their children, they will be part of a national movement dedicated to protecting children."
Lambda Alpha Epsilon members will share the Take 25 booth to make photo identification cards and fingerprints of children as a community service project. They will use a new digital fingerprinting system that ECU's Criminal Justice Program received recently through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The system photographs children and records their photos and digital fingerprints, along with video and audio interviews, on CDs. It also prints out photo ID cards. The free cards and CDs will be given to parents to provide to authorities in the event a child is abducted or goes missing.
More information about Take 25 and numerous safety tips and resources are available at http://www.take25.org.
# # #